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Sustainabililty
 
We are committed to a sustainable 21st century, and are implementing the necessary actions to do our part for Oregon.  We have incorporated our Sustainability Plan (Plan) through our mission and our two-year business plan.
 
Our current environment supports sustainability; however, the Governor's 2004 order gave us the opportunity to review our actions and to focus on expanding our efforts.   The Plan lays out our vision and how we can best serve our citizens.  We are improving the efficiency of energy and water use and increasing generation from renewable resources.  We are accomplishing this goal by applying performance measures and targets, working with energy utilities, and revisiting our pricing for water utility customers.   Our actions are leading to a more effective use of public purpose funds and are promoting customers' awareness of how their use of energy affects sustainability.  Our Utility Program Director, Electric and Natural Gas Division Administrator, and Corporate Analysis & Water Regulation Section Manager have chief responsibility for implementing the Plan. Coordination with the Oregon Department of Energy and input from the public are also an integral part of our success.
 
To educate our employees and keep everyone informed, a segment on sustainability has been added to our new employee orientations, this Plan has been provided to and reviewed with responsible managers and staff, the Management Team reviews the Plan's progress on a quarterly basis and our internal newsletter, The Communicator, has periodic updates on sustainability.
 
We began implementing our Plan early in January of 2004 with staff's review of utility filings for potential areas of action.  The Plan continues with a review of tariffs as they are filed.  Some activity depends on when the water utilities choose to file for rate changes.
 
 
SUSTAINABILITY
 
 
PUC BUILDING SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES
 
  • The entire building is connected to the Department of Administrative Services' auto matrix energy management system with DDC controls to send and receive temperature and schedule information.

  • The building sprinkler system uses well water to water the lawn and shrubs.
    
 
VISION
 
  • Our Agency’s mission is to ensure that safe and reliable utility services are provided to consumers at just and reasonable rates through regulation and promoting the development of competitive markets.

  • The most important sustainability effort we can make is to continue our basic agency strategic plan, which will ensure safe, reliable and competitive utility services in the years to come.

  • In addition we have identified a sustainability goal to improve the efficiency of energy and water use and increase generation from renewable resources.
 
 
CURRENT ENVIRONMENT
 
 
The following list highlights our current efforts to promote sustainability in agency operations.
 
  • Office Equipment and Furnishings - We are buying energy efficient computers and monitors.

  • Product Stewardship - We buy from the prison and local businesses.

  • Paper products - We use e-mail and e-filings when possible.

  • Green buildings and operations - We had an energy audit, use energy efficient light bulbs, etc.

  • Employee commuting - We encourage carpooling and bus riding.

  • Telecommuting - We allow telecommuting where feasible.

  • Local economic stability - We purchase from local businesses.

  • Recycling & waste reduction - We recycle printer and copier toner cartridges.

  • Citizen involvement - Public meetings.

  • Stakeholder reporting - Industry and customer groups and other alliances (for example, related to the Residential Service Protection Fund).

  • Environmental justice - Public notices, education and outreach to diverse audiences.

  • Education - Consumer and agency fact sheets.
 
 
The following list highlights regulatory activities that promote sustainability.
 
  • Utility planning - Electric and natural gas utilities are required to treat energy efficiency like other resources and to account for the benefits of renewable resources in avoiding emissions, diversifying the resource portfolio and reducing the risk of fuel price increases.

  • Utility pricing - We have investigated 1) what utilities should pay for the output of renewable resource and cogeneration projects and 2) how much they should charge customers (mainly industrial) for standby power when their on-site generation is out of service.

  • Removing barriers to sustainable resource use - We examined barriers to the use of distributed generation (smaller resource located closer to where the power is needed) and the benefits of using natural gas directly for end uses (like heating) instead of using it to generate electricity for that purpose.

  • Public safety - We inspect utility facilities and review maintenance practices to ensure compliance with national safety standards.
 
 
SUSTAINABILITY GOAL
 
 
Encourage sustainable resource use through Oregon's public purpose programs and utility pricing options.
 
The Commission is achieving this goal through the following three actions: 
 
1)   Establishing performance measures and targets to gauge the performance of the Energy Trust of Oregon in acquiring cost-effective conservation and renewable resources.
 
 
The Commission oversees the expenditure of public purpose funds by the Energy Trust of Oregon for energy efficiency and renewable resources.  The funds are collected from the customers of Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp and amount to about $45 million a year.  In 2004, after the Trust was through its start-up phase and transition from utility-run programs, the Commission established specific measures and targets to evaluate the Trust's performance.  The performance measures include: annual energy savings and renewable resource generation, cost per kilowatt-hour saved, percentage of funds received spent on administrative and program support costs, and customer satisfaction in dealing with the Trust and its contractors.  Each year, the Commission sets a target for each measure and considers the Trust's performance in meeting the targets in deciding whether to renew the grant agreement with the Trust and in reporting to the Legislature on continuation of the public purpose funding mechanism.
 
 
2)   Implementing new energy pricing programs that encourage efficient use.
 
The cost of meeting peak electricity needs in the Pacific Northwest has increased significantly in recent years.  Pricing strategies that encourage customers to reduce usage or shift it to off-peak, lower cost periods are increasingly likely to be cost-effective substitutes for buying power or building generating plants for use at peak times.  These strategies include: peak load pricing (charging higher prices during times of actual or expected peak usage), energy buybacks (paying customers to reduce usage at peak times), dispatchable standby generation (paying for the right to use a customer's emergency generator during the utility's peak) and direct load control (paying a residential customer for the right to cycle heaters or air conditioners on and off during peak periods).  Since the Commission has limited ability to force utilities to run such programs, it instead encourages and works with utilities to identify, design and offer other cost-effective programs.
 
 
3)  Adopting pricing for water utility customers that encourage more efficient use.
 
Many water utilities charge customers a flat monthly rate, so that customers pay the same amount no matter how much they use.  In order to encourage customers to use water more efficiently, the Commission encourages the adoption of volumetric rates (or even increasing block rates, where a customer pays a higher rate per hundred cubic feet at higher levels of usage) when regulated water utilities file to change rates.
 
 
EFFECT OF ACTIONS
 
  • Action 1 leads to more effective use of public purpose funds in achieving energy efficiency savings and renewable resource generation.

  • Actions 2 and 3 promote sustainability by giving customers price signals reflecting the cost of their energy or water consumption.
 
 
PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT
 
  • Action 1: The agency is successful if it applies specific performance measures and targets for the Energy Trust of Oregon in at least the following five areas: energy saved, energy generated from renewable resources, cost-effectiveness of energy savings, administrative cost share and customer satisfaction.

  • Action 2: The number of new utility pricing programs measures our progress.  We are targeting six new programs by the end of the 2005-07 biennium.

  • Action 3: The number of water utilities adopting the pricing changes will measure our progress.  We are targeting adoption of more efficient pricing by nine utilities by the end of the 2005-07 biennium.
 
 
RESPONSIBILITY
 
  • Action 1: The Utility Program Director (Position #145) is responsible for leading a public process each year to solicit input on performance measures and targets and presenting a recommendation for Commission action at a public meeting.

  • Action 2: The Administrator of the Electric and Natural Gas Division (Position #113) is responsible for working with utilities to develop programs and for reviewing and recommending Commission action on the programs when they are filed.

  • Action 3: The Manager of Corporate Analysis & Water Regulation (Position #248) is responsible for reviewing possible adoption or modification of usage pricing when water rate cases are filed.
 
 
COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM
 
 
Agency internal communication and education program related to sustainability:
 
  • New employee orientation – Segment on Sustainability, including our culture, goals, what we are doing, and what we have planned.

  • Periodic Sustainability updates in our internal newspaper, the Communicator.

  • Progress in meeting sustainability goal is reviewed quarterly with responsible managers and staff.
 
 
LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES
 
 
The PUC is committed to a Sustainable 21st century for Oregon.  In the long-term, we will incorporate sustainability principles while carrying out our mission and our agency strategic plan (as set forth in our budget narrative).
 
 
Policies and actions to promote sustainability further the Commission's goal of ensuring Oregon consumers receive utility service at affordable rates.  Recognizing the benefits of sustainability in how utilities plan for and acquire new resources helps to keep utility costs and customer energy bills down.  These benefits include: reduced exposure to pollution taxes and costs, lower fuel cost risk and price volatility with renewable resources and greater use of energy efficiency instead of more generation to meet consumers' energy needs.
 
 
COORDINATION WITH OTHER AGENCIES
 
  • The agency coordinates with the Oregon Department of Energy in setting performance measure targets and reviewing the performance of the Energy Trust, and in reviewing new pricing programs for energy utilities.   

  • The agency provides opportunities for public input in undertaking all three actions.

 
IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE
 
  • Action 1: In the third quarter of each year, the Energy Trust’s performance vis-à-vis the targets are reviewed and targets for the following year are set.

  • Action 2: Agency staff is reviewing utility proposals to adopt advanced metering technologies, which would allow pricing options to be offered to more customers.  The utilities may file tariffs for new pricing programs at different times during the rest of the 2005-07 biennium and staff will review them when filed.

  • Action 3: Activity depends on when water utilities choose to file for rate changes.  We project that more efficient pricing will be an issue in three rates cases during the 2005-07 biennium.

 
2005-07 Agency Sustainability Plan Progress Statement
 
 
As of May 15, 2006, the Commission's progress in meeting its sustainability goals is as follows:
 
  1. Establish performance measures and targets to gauge the performance of the Energy Trust of Oregon in acquiring cost-effective conservation and renewable resources: The Commission adopted 2006 targets in August 2005 and considered the Trust’s 2005 performance in its November 2005 decision to extend the grant agreement with the Trust for another year.

  2. Implement new energy pricing programs that encourage efficient use: The Commission 1) modified its rules in January 2006 to facilitate the use of advanced metering; 2) is revising its integrated resource planning requirements, which are designed to consider all resources, including pricing options, evenly; and 3) expects two new pricing programs to be offered in 2006.

  3. Adopt pricing for water utility customers that encourages more efficient use:  Volumetric pricing has been adopted or modified for four utilities in the biennium.
 
 
2007-09 Sustainability Plan
 
 
Sustainability must be considered in meeting the Commission's overall objective of ensuring that customers receive utility service at fair and reasonable rates.  Energy efficiency and renewable resources can be cheaper than conventional generating plants and avoid costs and risks associated with fuel prices and pollution.  In 2006-07, the Commission will revise its requirements for energy utilities to submit least-cost resource plans, review plans filed by individual utilities, determine whether to promote natural gas for end uses where it is more efficient than electricity, and examine its policies regarding interconnection of renewable resources and use of advanced metering.  The Oregon Department of Energy will participate in these reviews, along with other interested parties and members of the public.  The Commission expects that the outcome of these proceedings will guide the development of actions in 2007-09 to meet its overall sustainability goal.