In a region conflicted between its past and future energy scenarios, Oregon’s Gov. Ted Kulongoski has signed an executive order creating the Oregon Energy Planning Council to sort through a complex set of strategies involving new natural gas sources, more renewable-based electricity and a greater reliance on energy efficiency and conservation.

The chair of the newly appointed 11-member council will be an Oregon State University engineering professor, Ron Adams, and will include senior top executives from the region’s major private- and public-sector utilities. For example, the top administrator at the federal Bonneville Power Administration, Steve Wright, was named to the panel.

Kulongoski has charged the new advisory body with “providing proactive analysis, advice and assistance on energy planning.” His move comes within weeks of a Dec. 3 Oregon Business Plan meeting in which part of the energy portion of the discussions said liquefied natural gas (LNG) should continue to be an option in the state where there are three active proposals for siting LNG receiving terminals. It also comes after the governor’s own energy summit held last August.

An announcement on Kulongoski’s executive order said it was a direct result of the August energy summit. The planning council is charged with providing a report to the governor and the state legislature before the end of 2010.

“Even in these tough economic times, we need to address Oregon’s energy future comprehensively,” Kulongoski said. “The future prosperity of Oregon’s citizens and businesses will be dependent on a well developed and proactive energy plan that this council can help provide.”

The ultimate report by the council will include updated information on the state’s current energy use and supply, the governor’s spokesperson said. “The report also will include analyses of future energy needs, challenges to price and supply stability, analysis of any energy supply gaps, alternatives to meet Oregon’s energy needs, and short-, medium- and long-range energy plans for meeting Oregon’s energy demands.”

Kulongoski acknowledged that the state’s energy demand will grow — either from continuing population growth or a growing economy. But in any event, he feels he has already set the state on a “path to a renewable energy future,” while making sure that the state’s energy stability is addressed regarding traditional supplies during the multi-year transition to cleaner fuels.

“The council will help us chart that course,” Kulongoski said.

At the recently completed state business plan meeting, one of seven energy recommendations was to have the state as part of its business planning “diversify natural supply sources by encouraging access to additional supplies through the development of additional pipeline capacity and LNG importation facilities” (see Daily GPI, Dec. 22).

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