Boardman plan gets state approval
By Erik Siemers, Business Journal Staff Writer
Business Journal Staff Writer
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an endorsement of Portland General Electric Co.’s plan to shut its coal-fired power plant near Boardman in 2020.
The regulatory agency's endorsement came in the form of a recommendation to the state Environmental Quality Commission, whose vote next Tuesday will ultimately decide the fate of the Boardman plant, the state's largest stationary source of pollution.
Though the plant's eventual closure has seemed an inevitability, the exact date of that event has been the subject of significant back-and-forth between PGE and state regulatory agencies over the past year.
Last year, the Department of Environmental Quality approved a plan that would allow PGE to close the plant in 2040 after installing around $500 million in equipment to meet federal air quality rules.
But in April, PGE submitted an alternative that called for closing the plant in 2020 after just $40 million in new investment.
Regulators rejected that request in June, and the DEQ came up with three new options: closure in 2020 at a $320 million cost, in 2018 at $100 million, or 2015-16 at $35 million in costs.
Finally, PGE in October offered yet another amended plan — now endorsed by the DEQ — that required between $60 million and $90 million in upgrades to close the plant by 2020.
The closure is expected to affect customer rates by between 3 percent and 4.5 percent.
The difference-maker for regulators was PGE's commitment in its latest proposal to take a potential 2040 closure date off the table.
“This is a firm commitment that will be enforceable by state and federal law that they must close no later than Dec. 31, 2020,” said Andy Ginsberg, head of DEQ’s air quality division.
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