Portland General Electric plans to shut down its coal plant by 2020

Austin is not alone in preparing for clean and affordable energy.

When good news like this comes across the internet like this, we have to share. From the cloudy northwest:

Portland General Electric Co. would shut down the state’s only coal-fired power plant 20 years earlier than planned under a proposal it hopes to finalize with state and federal regulators in the coming months.

Essentially, the new plan to shut the Boardman plant down 20 years earlier than planned is to avoid extra costs for pollution controls (more than $500 million by 2017) and avoid carbon risks.  PGE still owes $125 million on the plant, and replacing the 500 MW of power will have its costs too, but read on…

Based on its analysis of carbon and natural gas prices, however, PGE maintains that a 2020 shutdown would be the low-cost, least-risk plan for utility ratepayers and shareholders [emphasis mine]. Under the existing plan, both face the risk of making the huge investment to control haze causing pollution – which does nothing to control the plant’s carbon emissions — then seeing the plant close anyway if global warming legislation or a carbon tax makes its output prohibitively expensive.

Read the full article here. Coal represents about a quarter of PGE’s generation mix. (Los Angeles also has a goal to get out of coal by 2020.)

Austin Energy has similar plans to get out of its only coal plant, the Fayette Power Project. No target date is set yet, but the utility’s 2020 generation plan would reduce Austin’s dependence on it by 20-30%. The next two years will be important as Austin works with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas  (the grid operator for most of Texas) and the Lower Colorado River Authority (co-owner of Fayette) to see what the most practical and fair way out. Learn more about the resource plan and some excellent additional recommendations at www.cleanenergyforaustin.org. You can also learn a lot from AE’s website www.austinsmartenergy.com.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.