PGE Acknowledges Risks of Dirty Boardman Coal Plant

January 15, 2010

PGE Acknowledges Risks of Dirty Boardman Coal Plant

Company Proposes Phasing Out Oregon’s Only Coal Plant, Though Continues Reliance on Dirty and Dangerous Source of Power for Unnecessary Additional Decade

(Portland, OR) –Portland General Electric (PGE) announced yesterday a proposal to phase out its Boardman coal-fired power plant by 2020, as opposed to 2040, a target date that the company had previously proposed.  The revised proposal came days before the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) was scheduled to meet to discuss PGE’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a plan intended to identify the resources the utility will use to meet its customers’ electricity needs.

“PGE revising their IRP demonstrates that they are finally considering the overwhelming economic and financial liabilities of this coal plant,” said. Betty Kaplan, Portland resident and Sierra Club activist “The acknowledgement that continuing to burn coal at Boardman for another 30 years presents risks for ratepayers, as well as public health, is a step, but proposing to phase the plant out in 2020 falls short of true progress.  Based on their own analysis, 2014 is the phase out path that is best for Oregon’s ratepayers and the health of our communities.”

As part of PGE’s new proposal for the future of Oregon’s dirtiest power plant, PGE will ask regulators to allow it to only partially clean up its emissions of mercury and oxides of nitrogen.  If PGE keeps the plant open until 2040, the company would need to make significant investments in measures that would attempt to address the catastrophic pollution emitted daily by the coal-fired power plant.

“We should not mistake this announcement for a victory in the ongoing fight against coal,” said Sierra Club Regional Representative Cesia Kearns.  “PGE’s own analysis shows that phasing out their Boardman coal plant by 2014 is the best option available for ratepayers, shareholders and everybody that enjoys breathing in Oregon.”

Coal is one of the dirtiest and most dangerous ways to produce electricity and burning coal creates significant health impacts, including asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory issues.  PGE’s revised proposal does not address the health impacts Oregonians face if Boardman is allowed to remain polluting for another decade.

There is also significant financial risk to Boardman’s plan.  Even if PGE can convince the Department of Environmental Quality to allow the Boardman plant to continue operating uncontrolled until 2020, PGE would be required to comply with new federal air toxics emissions rules expected to be approved this year, which would require about $500 million in pollution controls, in addition to carbon costs – expenses that would all be passed on to ratepayers.

“Unnecessarily relying on coal-fired power creates tremendous risk for shareholders and ratepayers,” said Christine Lewis, Sierra Club volunteer.  “It is irresponsible for PGE to think they can get away with continuing to pollute unchecked for another decade and pass the financial risk on to ratepayers and shareholders.”

As part of PGE’s revised IRP proposal, the public comment period scheduled to take place at the PUC meeting next week was canceled.

“PGE is changing the rules at the eleventh hour so it can continue polluting unchecked for another decade.  We are prepared to clearly show through PGE’s own analysis that 2014 is the best time to phase out Boardman,” said Kearns.  “Residents of Oregon are affected by the health impacts of burning coal at Boardman each and every day and they should have the right to tell the PUC not to accept PGE’s proposal unless they agree to phase out Boardman by 2014.”

Oregon is poised to address its unemployment challenges with a serious commitment to creating new jobs by growing clean energy industries.  Instead of agreeing to keep Oregon ratepayer money in Oregon by investing in energy efficiency, solar and wind, PGE is proposing to continue sending Oregonian’s money to coal barons in Wyoming.

Said Kearns, “The Sierra Club supports a phase out of Boardman by 2014 — not only because this is the most economically and technically feasible date proposed in PGE’s analysis, but because we believe that Oregonians deserve clean energy, clean air and a sustainable future.  We look forward to continuing to work toward this goal.”

For more information, please visit www.sierraclub/coal/or

3 Responses to PGE Acknowledges Risks of Dirty Boardman Coal Plant

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  2. […] the major Oregon utility, partial owner and sole operator of the Boardman Coal Plant, proposed a possible timeline for phasing out reliance on Boardman.  That was the good news: after months of work on the part of climate activists, PGE had finally […]

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