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News Release
 
Public Utility Commission Acts On Sale Requests
 
March 1, 2000 (2000-011)
 
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR - The Oregon Public Utility Commission today approved the sale of a portion of a PacifiCorp coal plant in Centralia, Washington, but turned down a request by Portland General Electric to sell its share of two coal plants in Montana.
 
The Commission issued two separate orders simultaneously. The Commission noted, while SB 1149 encourages the electric industry to sell generating assets, it does not remove the expectation sales will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to protect ratepayers.
 
In the PacifiCorp case, the Commission concluded the sale meets the no harm standard of ORS 757.480. PacifiCorp sought approval to sell its share of the 1,340 megawatt Centralia Steam generating plant and the associated coal mine to TECWA Power and TECWA Fuel. PacifiCorp operates and has the largest share in the plant. Oregon’s share of the sale is $46.2 million.
PacifiCorp’s decision to sell its share of the plant was based primarily on its concern that new air emission standards by the state of Washington will require substantial capital expenditures at the facilities.
 
PacifiCorp proposed 64 percent of the gain go to ratepayers. Instead, the Commission said it favored a 95 percent share for ratepayers as spelled out in a previously approved order (UE 102). A final decision on the allocation will be made in PacifiCorp’s pending rate case (UE 111).
 
In the other case, the Commission denied the sale of Portland General Electric’s share in Wyoming Colstrip 3 and 4 coal plants. The Commission agreed with PUC staff that PGE failed to demonstrate benefits to override potential harm to ratepayers resulting from the sale of PGE’s 20 percent share of the facilities. The Commission said PGE focused on the short-term benefits of the sale, while the Commission staff focused on the long-term impacts, including increased
replacement power market risks for PGE customers. PGE was selling its share in an auction prompted by Montana Power Company’s desire to sell its 30 percent share. However, the Commission is leaving the door open to reconsider the request.
 
The Commission says it is willing to revisit the decision if PGE is able to identify and propose offsetting benefits.
 
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