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Portland General Stops Permitting Process For More Gas-Fired Generation

May 15, 2017
TAGS carty / oregon / piro
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Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) on Friday submitted letters to Oregon energy and environmental agencies suspending its request to amend its site certificate for the natural gas-fired Carty Generating Station near Boardman, OR, as well as a related air permit application.

The trigger for PGE's action is ongoing "bilateral negotiations" to line up new power supplies and/or power generation, according to CEO Jim Piro. The utility made its request to both the Oregon Department of Energy and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

If the utility secures capacity through the negotiations that were previewed on a quarterly earnings conference call last month, it plans to seek approval from the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) along with a waiver from competitive bidding guidelines as necessary, a PGE spokesperson said. "The company may also propose a competitive request for proposals [RFP] to acquire any additional needed capacity resources not acquired through the bilateral negotiations."

Separately, PGE has proposed an RFP to acquire approximately 175 average megawatts (aMW) of new renewable resources (equivalent to a wind nameplate capacity of approximately 500 MW).

PGE intends to capture the benefits of the federal production tax credit for customers before it is eliminated in 2020, and combine them with existing wind, solar and hydroelectric facilities. It will enable PGE to generate about 50% of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2020, the PGE spokesperson said.

Piro indicated on last month's conference call that PGE is in negotiations for purchased power or power generation facilities that could eliminate the need to add natural gas-fired units at the 440 MW Carty plant, which opened last year.

“We’re currently in bilateral negotiations to acquire dispatchable resources to meet our customers’ energy needs,” Piro said Friday. “It’s appropriate for us to suspend the permitting process at Carty until we complete these negotiations.”

Piro and CFO Jim Lobdell have said they are looking at existing generation resources in the Pacific Northwest, seeking to ink an agreement to contract for purchased power or acquire an asset to meet future capacity needs at a lower cost than building the additional Carty units. In play is the need for an estimated additional 560 MW of capacity to meet a projected shortfall by 2021.

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