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Emissions offsets requested

An Oregon non-profit group is seeking projects that will offset the carbon dioxide output of new fossil fuel generation in the state. Oregon Climate Trust (OCT) released in January a request for proposals for projects that reduce or sequester carbon dioxide at a cost of just under $1 million. OCT intends the projects to be completed before the year's end.

Among technologies eligible for funding are wind, solar, biomass and geothermal generation, as well as projects that fund energy efficiency, fuel switching, and sequestering carbon in trees. Projects that sequester carbon generally involve buying tracts of rain forest or planting trees that will absorb CO2, sequester the carbon and release oxygen. OCT wants at least some of the money to be spent in Oregon, but will also fund projects outside the state and overseas. The trust's Mike Burnett says that although the money available will not fund a large-scale wind project, it could pay for an addition to an existing project.

OCT was formed in 1997 when Oregon passed legislation requiring new power plants to meet CO2 emission standards and to mitigate for CO2 output. A power plant pays a fee of $0.63/tonne on CO2 output that exceeds the strict standards. Burnett points out that the fee could rise and fall based upon a market in CO2 credits.

The first project to contribute is the Klamath Co-generation Project in southern Oregon, a 500 MW combined-cycle gas turbine under construction by PacifiCorp and the City of Klamath Falls. In addition to funding OCT, the Klamath project has its own CO2 mitigation portfolio that includes solar electrification in China, India and Sri Lanka.

Two other gas-fired power plants planned for this year and 2001 could bring OCT an additional $6 million. OCT does not have exclusive rights to the money, but it is the only non-profit group in Oregon so far set up to fund and manage such projects.

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