Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
Tammy’s views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammy’s neighbors, Wayne Mayo, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Trump, Henry Heimuller, VP Pence, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsiglia’s dog, or Claudia Eagle’s Cats. This Tammy’s Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.
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The Ash Grove Cement Durkee plant is along I 84 east of Baker City. Many industrial emitters would receive up to 90 percent of their emissions allowances for free under Oregon's proposed carbon
Even though the Cap and Trade HB2020 is dead it is interesting to see just what was included in the bill and how it was going to work.
Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants such as Portland General Electric's Port Westward Generating Plant in Clatskanie would be regulated under Oregon's cap and invest bills.
The state’s big investor-owned utilities -- Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp and Northwest Natural -- are the primary targets here. The program is a bit convoluted in this sector, but here’s how it works in general.
The utilities would receive free allowances each year equal to their respective emissions targets under the program. They would then consign those allowances for sale in the state auction.
Simultaneously, the legislation would require utilities to acquire allowances in the market equal to their actual emissions levels.
The proceeds from the auction of the free allowances would then be returned to the utilities to offset the rate impact of buying the second set of allowances.
Sound confusing? It is. The legislation also dictates the use of the auction proceeds, first to benefit low-income customers, including renters, then all other customers, either in bill credits, weatherization assistance or other efficiency projects that reduce emissions.
Backers of the legislation contend it’s structured so ratepayers won’t face higher costs. That’s debatable. The bills direct the utilities to provide “volumetric” rate credits to low-income customers, based on their usage, but prohibits volumetric rate credits for other customer classes. So presumably, some customers will be subsidizing others and face higher costs, the utilities say. There’s no guarantee low-income customers would be made whole either.
PGE estimates that residential ratepayers could face a 6.6 percent rate increase in 2021 and as much as 27 percent by 2030 as the cost of allowances grows. Commercial and industrial increases would be larger. Oregon’s residential ratepayer advocate, the Citizen’s Utility Board, offers similar estimates for 2021.
Costs and rate impacts for coal-dependent PacifiCorp, which has much higher Oregon-related emissions than PGE, would be higher.
PGE and PacifiCorp both oppose the bills. They say their customers already cover investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet state mandates. They also agreed in 2016 to eliminate coal-fired power from their energy mix by 2035.
“The utility business is already under a carbon policy,” said Scott Bolton, PacifiCorp’s senior vice president of external affairs. “We don’t understand why less than two years after the passage of that our customers will be faced with even higher cost pressures. We don’t want to penalize customers twice for the same decarbonization.”
Northwest Natural says it supports deep carbon reductions and has an internal goal of 30 percent savings by 2030 by reducing methane leakage by its gas suppliers and the use of “renewable natural gas” from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities. But it says the current legislation doesn’t recognize that it has a more limited menu of carbon reduction options than its electric counterparts.
“We’re not opposed to a carbon tax system,” said Tom Imeson, the company’s vice president of public affairs. “But we don’t think we’re there yet.”
Advocates of the bill applaud the utilities for planning decarbonization, but say there’s no enforceable mechanism to ensure it happens. They have, however, agreed to another provision in the Senate version of the legislation designed to soften any blow on electric ratepayers.
Because of the electric utilities’ deal to eliminate coal-fired power, the bill proposes to provide them with free allowances to cover the portion of their emissions that come from coal plants until 2030.
That’s potentially a big deal, eliminating two-thirds of the electric utilities’ initial allowance costs. But the benefits aren’t distributed evenly, or equitably. About 90 percent of PacifiCorp’s greenhouse emissions are from coal, compared with only 35 percent for PGE. So PacifiCorp would get more free allowances and see less cost impact than PGE during the next 15 years. This while PGE is eliminating most of its coal power earlier and has much lower overall carbon emissions.
“In a way, we’re being punished for the decision to close Boardman and get on with things,” said Sunny Radcliffe, PGE’s director of environmental policy, referring to the coal-fired power plant PGE has agreed to shutter by 2020.
Article by Ted Sickinger| The Oregonian/OregonLive.
I think most of the heaviest polluters are being given the most allowances, I understand that we need industry and we must not scare them off, but on the other hand industry needs to be part of the solution because they are part of the problem.
I would like to see the industry heads, the state and the heads of environmental groups come to a joint meeting and iron out a successful plan which we can all agree on. I would like to see modern technology used to update industries, it would create jobs for decades and in the meantime help stop climate change through carbon reductions.
Hopefully our State Senator’s and Representative’s and Governor, step forward and work with everyone for the benefit to reduce climate change without bankrupting business, and the average workers in Oregon. We can do this without charging $5.00 a gallon gas tax; there are better ways, easier ways.
The science is there, we need to stop the extremism on all sides.