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Wind and salmon both to benefit

In a unique green offering, Portland General Electric hopes to give customers a choice to pay a premium on their electricity bills to help develop more wind or to help restore salmon runs. Customers with a penchant to do the right thing can support both options.

In a unique green offering that may make sense only to Northwesterners, Portland General Electric (PGE) hopes to give customers a choice to pay a premium on their electricity bills to help develop more wind or to help restore salmon runs. Customers with a penchant to do the right thing can support both options.

In PGE's proposal, customers can pay a $5 per block premium each month on either option. Each block under the wind program would guarantee that 100 kWh of power delivered will be generated from wind. Residential customers can buy up to two blocks, while commercial customers can buy more. An average PGE residential customer uses about 1000 kWh a month, meaning 20% of the average customer's energy can come from wind.

PGE currently buys the 24.5 MW output of FPL Energy's Vansycle Ridge project in eastern Oregon-through which customers already pay through their normal rates (Windpower Monthly, January 1999). According to Kraegg Arntson of PGE, each $5 in the new program would help offset the cost of developing additional wind resources. The $5 salmon contribution will go directly to For the Sake of the Salmon, a non-profit group mounting a public effort to reverse the decline of salmon in the area. The funds will be used for watershed and salmon habitat restoration efforts in Oregon.

PGE expects approval for its program from the Oregon Public Utility Commission in time for a January start date.

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