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United States

Friendly move in Oregon


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An relatively good news for wind, Oregon regulators have issued an order calling for more renewables development in the state. But since the order contains few specifics, it is not expected to lead to an environment in which renewables -- or wind -- development will be specifically fostered. The order, issued in May by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC), was the result of more than a year-long probe into renewables and issues that may impact their development. In the main finding, the probe stated that utilities ought to be ready to use conservation and renewables for all new supplies by the year 2000. That is the primary policy goal issued in the directive.

"I think Oregon is an hospitable place to do business," says Bob Kahn of the American Wind Energy Association. "The decision didn't improve our standing, it just reiterated that we're welcome." The PUC's primary stated goal is similar to that contained in the Oregon Department of Energy biennial report of two years ago. Quantitative objectives, however, or direct policy statements were not contained in the final order. To assist in meeting this goal, utilities should include in their least-cost planning process the following:

¥ a goal to meet the current least-cost plan targets for renewables through 2000, unless there are substantial changes in conditions

¥ evaluation of the utility strategy for meeting overall targets in small yearly increments from a variety of resource types and sizes

¥ an explanation of whether the utility intends to issue a green request for proposals for a renewable resource acquisition

¥ the means for interested parties to share information and ideas concerning renewables ¥ efforts to improve modelling of the costs and benefits of renewables development

¥ continuation of research, development and demonstration plans for renewables to meet the overall policy goal stated above

¥ best effort attempts to assist an independent renewable project located outside its service territory to get its electricity to the purchasing utility's system

¥ willingness to provide to potential renewable resource developers a list of more significant contract terms and conditions which the utility would expect to include in the final negotiated power purchase contract.

Renewables lobbyists had tried to get more specific items in the order. "We were trying to increase the comfort level of the development community by making the plans more like targets," says Don Bain of the Oregon Department of Energy. "It shows that they're interested [in renewables]," he adds. "On the other hand, when push comes to shove, between making independent policy direction and putting off things into other processes, the latter seems to win out, especially with regard to least cost planning."

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