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News Release
 
Report Sets Out Path for Advancing Mini-Power Plants at Homes and Factories
March 8, 2005 (2005 - 005)
 
Contacts: Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lisa Schwartz, PUC Analyst 503-378-8718; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, Or. - The Oregon Public Utility Commission today issued a report that lays the foundation for advancing "distributed" generation that is more efficient and cleaner than typical power plants and holds promise for meeting energy needs at lower cost.
 
"Our goal is to encourage utilities and customers to meet energy needs at the lowest possible cost and risk," Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. "This report is an excellent blueprint to remove regulatory barriers to lower cost distributed generation."
 
Distributed generation produces electricity at or near the place where it’s used, in homes, businesses and public facilities. That means the power doesn’t have to be moved to consumers from remotely located power plants. It also makes it possible to use the waste heat produced during generation for heating buildings or industrial processes.
 
"Cogeneration systems that make use of the waste heat are more efficient than producing electricity and heat separately. They include technologies used in factories, as well as fuel cells and micro turbines that are small enough for homes and office buildings. Because cogeneration systems optimize use of natural gas, they can help keep down natural gas prices," added Commissioner Ray Baum.
 
Currently the projects in place around Oregon, primarily at large industrial operations, represent more than 500 megawatts of energy. By comparison, the state’s three largest municipal-owned utilities that serve Eugene, Springfield and McMinnville consume about the same amount of energy each year. In addition, several hundred small renewable energy systems serve Oregon homes and businesses.
 
Other types of distributed generation technologies, including solar electric panels and wind turbines, use renewable resources. The report, "Distributed Generation in Oregon: Overview, Regulatory Barriers and Recommendations," describes how customers and utilities are using these technologies, their benefits, as well as current and projected costs.
 
The report lays out barriers and recommendations in the following areas:
  • Standards for interconnecting distributed generators to the electric grid

  • Rates for backup power when generators trip off line or require maintenance

  • Policies for federally-mandated utility purchases from renewable and cogeneration resources

  • Power sales to utilities through competitive bidding, to a marketer, or to other customers directly

  • Utility planning for energy resources and the electric grid

  • Utility disincentives related to lost sales when customers develop generation on-site
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