Renewable Northwest’s ability to work with a broad range of constituencies, our persistence, creativity and flexibility have led to many successes for electric ratepayers, the environment, and the future of renewable resources in the Northwest. Here is a partial list of just some of our many accomplishments.
- The Northwest is home to over 8,000 megawatts (MW) of wind, solar and geothermal installations. This is enough to power more than 2 million NW households. Renewable NW has worked productively with the parties involved in many of these projects to overcome obstacles and help bring these projects online.
- After years of relentless advocacy, there are now MW of wind, geothermal, solar and wave/tidal renewable energy projects in the siting process in the Northwest. Renewable NW is actively involved a range of issues promoting the responsible siting of renewable energy projects across the Northwest.
- Renewable energy has been the source of cheap, clean power in the Northwest for generations, but fossil fuel generation now accounts for almost 50% of the energy consumed in the region. Renewable NW has worked to ensure the continuation of this legacy through promoting the development of a new generation of clean renewable energy. Part of our effort is to ensure that ratepayers are getting charged appropriately for renewable power, and that utilities and transmission operators are not inventing or inflating costs. Renewable NW's successes in many rate cases and dockets have saved ratepayers millions of dollars.
- On June 7th, 2007, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into law the Oregon Renewable Energy Act (SB 838). The Act, hailed by the governor as "the most significant piece of environmental legislation ... in more than 30 years," establishes a Renewable Energy Standard that requires Oregon's largest utilities to acquire at least 25% of their electricity from new, homegrown renewable energy sources by 2025. Smaller Oregon utilities must meet smaller renewable energy targets of 5% or 10% of their electricity by 2025. The Act is expected to support roughly 1,500 average MW of new renewable energy.
Renewable NW worked with a broad and diverse coalition including environmental groups, ratepayer advocates, utilities, counties, cities, unions, business organizations, rural constituencies, religious groups and renewable energy businesses to guide the formation and help establish the new statewide standard.
The law also extends the life of the Energy Trust of Oregon through 2025, dedicates the Trust's renewable energy funds to supporting community-scale renewable energy projects and authorizes investor-owned utilities to pursue additional cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities beyond those currently funded by the Energy Trust.
- On November 8th, 2006, voters in Washington state approved Initiative 937, Washington's Clean Energy Initiative. I-937 establishes a Renewable Energy Standard that requires the state's 17 largest utilities to acquire at least 15% of their electricity from new, homegrown renewable energy sources by 2020. Utilities will also be required to pursue all cost effective energy efficiency opportunities.
Working with our clean energy allies, the Yes on 937 campaign, and a broad coalition of supporters, Renewable NW helped launch the successful effort to establish the statewide standard. Washington joins Colorado as just the second state in the nation to enact a Renewable Energy Standard by popular vote. I-937 is expected to support the development of 1,300 average MW of new renewable energy.
- Through our Go Green campaign, Renewable NW has helped inspire the creation and growth of over 60 retail green power programs by the region's utilities, including several national leaders. In 2012, customer participation in these Northwest utility green power programs topped 243,000. These voluntary participants support the generation of over 245 average MW of power, the equivalent of the output of a large 735 MW wind farm.
- Renewable NW intervened in the MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (MEHC)/PacifiCorp merger proceedings that resulted in MEHC's commitment to build or acquire at least 1,400 MW of new renewable energy projects, including at least 400 MW of renewables by the end of 2007. PacifiCorp's proposed 2007 Integrated Resource Plan exceeds this commitment by proposing to acquire 2,000 MW of renewables by 2013.
- Renewable NW worked for many years with Montana Power and then Northwestern Energy, as well as other Montana allies, to see the first utility-scale wind project developed in the Northwest's windiest state. The 135 MW Judith Gap wind project came on-line in 2005 and is probably the cheapest and most robust project in the region. That same year Renewable NW worked to help pass Montana's Renewable Energy Standard which requires investor-owned utilities in the state to acquire at least 15% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2015.
- Renewable NW has dedicated its technical expertise and forceful advocacy to regional and utility efforts to integrate increasing amounts of wind power onto their electricity systems. Renewable NW worked with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the Bonneville Power Administration and regional stakeholders on the Northwest Wind Integration Action Plan report. The report, released in March 2007, concluded that there were "no technical barriers" to integrating 6,000 MW of wind in the Pacific Northwest and that sufficient transmission capacity exists to integrate proposed wind project in the near term. The report also concluded that the costs associated with wind integration were reasonable and that there were cooperative steps the region could take to reduce these costs further.
- Renewable NW has worked consistently on transmission policy and planning issues to to ensure that renewable energy resources can be delivered to energy users. Renewable NW has supported policies to treat renewable energy projects fairly on the transmissions system, has helped develop ways to use the existing transmissions system more efficiently, and is working to support efforts to expand the transmission system to renewable energy rich areas of the region.
- Together with solar energy industry stakeholders, Renewable NW supported the creation of net metering policies in all four Northwest states which will help reduce barriers to the implementation of distributed renewable resources. Renewable NW recently helped update net metering standards in Oregon and Washington and these standards are considered some of the strongest in the nation.
- On July 26, 1999, Governor John Kitzhaber signed into law the Oregon restructuring law, which substantially implemented the recommendations of the Regional Review. Renewable NW worked with the 120 organizations of the Fair and Clean Energy Coalition, as well as commercial and industrial customers, utilities, labor unions, and cities on the prior regulatory proceedings that shaped the qualities of the state policy. The policy increased spending on public purposes in the state three-fold, and requires investor-owned utilities to offer a renewable product to their customers. It also calls for fuel source and environmental emissions disclosure on customer bills. The full text of the restructuring law is available on the Oregon Senate's web site.
- Working with Montana Power and local stakeholder groups, Renewable NW spearheaded efforts to dedicate Universal System Benefit Charge funds to distributed renewables.
- Renewable NW helped influence the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to acquire several renewable energy projects and develop new renewable energy products for their customers. BPA has committed to ensuring their customers meet their portion of the renewable energy targets under the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Power Plan (6,000 MW) and to provide the products and services that get them there.
- Renewable NW played a leadership role in establishing the path-breaking CO2 standard for new power plants in Oregon in 1996. This standard was the first of its kind in the country.
- Renewable NW intervened in the Scottish Power/PacifiCorp merger proceedings that resulted in the commitment to construct 50 MW of new wind power in Wyoming, offer green power programs for nearly all of PacifiCorp’s utility customers, and make a contribution to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
- Along with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC), Renewable NW led the effort to establish the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). Since its founding in 1998, BEF has funded more than $4.5 million in new renewable resource projects and habitat and watershed restoration efforts in the Northwest.