Decarbonizing Utilities, Inspirational or Aspirational?
- Jul 22, 2021 4:23 am GMT
Oregon just passed a clean energy bill that directs its two largest utilities to deliver 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. Oregon is joining Hawaii, California, Washington, New Mexico, New York, Maine, and Virginia in their commitment to 100 percent clean electricity. When it comes to decarbonization, utilities are willing but are they able? To meet renewable energy mandates, PacifiCorp submitted plans to replace retiring coal plants with wind and solar farms. No detail is too small but in this case, there are so many that still need to be fleshed out that a growing number of companies are concerned about the timetable. The targets stair-step from 80 percent clean electricity by 2030, to 90 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2040. “If you go out to 2030, we think we can hit that,” said PacifiCorp Senior Vice President Scott Bolton. “We were pretty clear though, beyond that we don’t have a plan that shows we can get there.” Brett Sims, a vice president at Portland General Electric, said the company completed thorough analysis that shows they can also meet the 2030 target by eliminating coal, operating natural gas-fired plants at peak times only and adding substantial wind, solar, and storage to its energy mix. However, Simms believes the 2040 target is ‘aspirational.’ Brimming with optimism about developing strategies and new technologies, Nicole Hughes, executive director of the advocacy group Renewable Northwest, responded, “I prefer ‘inspirational. We’ve solved harder problems than this before.”
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