Why Oregon imports power from fossil fuels and exports renewable energy
We hear a lot about new renewable energy projects in Oregon: geothermal, solar and wind projects galore. And that’s on top of hydropower – a renewable staple in the Northwest’s power supply.
But there’s a big difference between renewable energy production in Oregon and consumption. Rachel Shimshak, executive director of Renewable Northwest Project says renewable energy incentives have positioned Oregon well to attract new developments – especially wind projects. But less than a quarter of the 5,000 megawatts of wind power generated in Oregon is actually used here.
Where is all that wind energy going? And what are we using instead?
According to Ken Dragoon, senior resource analyst with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, 30 to 40 percent of that wind energy goes to California to meet renewable energy mandates down there. Meanwhile, nearly 40 percent of Oregon’s electricity consumption comes from coal-fired power plants – many of which are in Wyoming and Montana. About 15 percent of the state’s power comes from natural gas.
With all the hydropower and renewable energy development in Oregon, Shimshak said, “it’s probably a surprise to most people that more than 45 percent of our electricity comes from fossil fuels.”