It began in January, when Portland General Electric (PGE) made a big announcement: 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 acknowledged the risks of associated with their coal-fired coal plant. The bad news? The soonest transition date proposed by PGE fell woefully short of what’s needed to protect Oregon’s environment, our economy, and ratepayers being subjected to the risks of coal dependency. Under PGE’s proposed “2020 Plan,” the Boardman Plant would remain open for a minimum of ten more years.
Media outlets in the Northwest were a-flurry with the news that PGE wanted to decommission its coal plant. Laudatory news articles and editorials poured in, the vast majority framing the issue as one of the PGE responding to public concerns by doing the right thing for the environment. Unfortunately, few stories in the mainstream media probed deeply into the validity of claims PGE made to justify their preferred timetable. Most news sources accepted PGE’s arguments at face value, never asking the essential question of whether a private utility that answers to Wall Street investors should be trusted to essentially regulate itself. Read the rest of this entry »