Utility merger good for Northwest renewables

The merger of ScottishPower and Northwest American utility PacifiCorp looks set to provide a welcome spin-off for wind power. The deal cleared two more hurdles last month when Oregon and Wyoming regulators approved the merger with conditions that include at least 50 MW of renewable resources in five years. According to Rachel Shimshack of the Renewables Northwest Project, the 50 MW is a bonus in addition to PacifiCorp's obligations under the public purposes provisions in Oregon's recently passed deregulation law. The 50 MW provision was initiated by ScottishPower, adds Shimshack, which has also offered to introduce a green electricity product to the market and contribute to the Bonneville Power Administration's Environmental Foundation, which supports renewable development along with fish and wildlife protection in the Northwest. "We negotiated these three provisions early in the process and they were included in their first filings with the commissions," says Shimshack. Neither Shimshack nor the utilities know how much of the 50 MW of renewables will include wind. But according to PacifiCorp's Dave Kvamme "we're looking at a mix of wind and geothermal that will be on-line in or near our service area within five years of the merger." Both ScottishPower and PacifiCorp have already invested in wind plant. ScottishPower has 69 MW of wind plant in the UK, making it the second largest developer, with another 30 MW underway. PacifiCorp owns an 80 percent share of a 41.4 MW wind farm in Wyoming and 2.1 MW in California. If completed, the merger will be the first large takeover of a US utility by one from Europe.