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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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Renewable Portfolio Standard   

Last DSIRE Review: 08/25/2014
Program Overview:
State: Oregon
Incentive Type: Renewables Portfolio Standard
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Municipal Solid Waste, Hydrogen, Anaerobic Digestion, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal
Applicable Sectors: Municipal Utility, Investor-Owned Utility, Rural Electric Cooperative, Retail Supplier
Standard:Large utilities: 25% by 2025
Small utilities: 10% by 2025
Smallest utilities: 5% by 2025
Technology Minimum:PV (IOUs): 20 MW sized 500 kW to 5 MW by 2020
Credit Trading:Yes (WREGIS)
Credit Transfers Accepted From:None
Credit Transfers Accepted To:WREGIS into NAR, NC-RETS
(Refers to tracking system compatibility only, not RPS eligibility. Please see statutes and regulations for information on facility eligibility)
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
ORS ยง 469A
6/6/2007, subsequently amended
Authority 2:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
OAR 330-160-0015 to 330-160-0050
2008, subsequently amended
Authority 3:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
OAR 860-083
2009, subsequently amended
Authority 4:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
OAR 860-084
2010, subsequently amended

As part of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act of 2007 (Senate Bill 838), the state of Oregon established a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for electric utilities and retail electricity suppliers. Different RPS targets apply depending on a utility's size. Electricity service suppliers must meet the requirements applicable to the electric utilities that serve the territories in which the electricity service supplier sells electricity to retail consumers.

Large utilities -- those with 3% or more of the state's load -- must ensure that a percentage of the electricity sold to retail customers in-state be derived from newer eligible renewable energy resources according to the following schedule:

  • 5% by 2011
  • 15% by 2015
  • 20% by 2020
  • 25% by 2025

Eligible “newer” resources are primarily those placed in service on or after January 1, 1995, as discussed further below.
Smaller utilities are subject to lower standards. Utilities with less than 1.5% of state load must meet a 5% RPS by 2025. Utilities with more than 1.5%, but less than 3% of state load must meet a 10% RPS by 2025. However, utilities that buy into a new coal plant or sign a new contract specifically for new coal power and publicly-owned utilities that annex investor-owned utility territory without consent are subject to the “large utility” standards.

The legislation also established a goal that by 2025 at least 8% of Oregon's retail electrical load comes from small-scale, community renewable energy projects with a capacity of 20 megawatts (MW) or less. In fact, the legislation modified Oregon's public purpose charge for renewable resources to focus on smaller projects of 20 MW or less and extended the sunset date on the public purpose charge through 2025.

Eligible Technologies 
Eligible renewable resources include electricity generated from solar, wind, hydropower, ocean thermal, wave, and tidal power, geothermal, hydrogen using anhydrous ammonia derived from certain renewable sources, municipal solid waste, and biomass, including biogas. Initially, incineration facilities using municipal solid waste were not eligible, but with the passage of HB 3674 in March 2010, municipal solid waste facilities are eligible. Only 11 MW of municipal solid waste can count towards the RPS each year. Incineration facilities using chemically-treated wood are not eligible. Eligible resources must be located within Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) territory or must be designated environmentally preferable by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

To qualify as an eligible renewable resource, electricity must be generated by a facility that becomes operational on or after January 1, 1995. Electricity from facilities operational before January 1, 1995 attributable to efficiency, or, for non-hydropower facilities, capacity upgrades completed on or after January 1, 1995, is a qualifying resource. A limited amount of hydropower from facilities operational before 1995 can qualify as an eligible resource under certain conditions. 50 average MW of utility-owned, pre-1995, low-impact hydropower can be used for compliance; 40 average MW of non-utility owned, pre-1995, low-impact hydropower can be used for compliance. HB 3674 (2010) allowed pre-1995 biomass and municipal solid waste facilities to be eligible for RPS compliance beginning in 2026. Renewable energy certificates from these facilities can be purchased prior to 2026, but cannot be used for compliance until 2026. Additionally, with the passage of HB 2622 (2011), electricity generated by facilities that burn coal as a fuel source, but stop burning coal completely and convert to renewable energy after January 1, 2012, can be used to comply with the RPS.

A matrix detailing eligible resources, targets by utility size, and affected utilities is available on the program website listed above.

RPS compliance must be demonstrated through the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) through the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS). RECs may be either bundled with, or purchased separately from, electricity contracts. Unbundled RECs can meet only 20% of a large utility's compliance obligation and 50% of a large consumer-owned utility's obligation until 2020. A consumer owned utility that transitions from the small to large utility category may use up to 100% unbundled RECs to comply when its compliance requirement is 5%, 75% unbundled RECs when its compliance requirement is 15% and 20%, and 20% unbundled RECs when its compliance requirement is 25%.  RECs procured before March 31 of a given year may be used for a previous year's compliance, and RECs may be banked and carried forward indefinitely for future compliance. Note that bundled RECs must come from a facility in the U.S. portion of the WECC.

RECs cannot be counted toward compliance with both Oregon's RPS and an RPS of another state or use in voluntary “green power” programs. However, RECs can be counted toward both Oregon's RPS and a federal RPS should one be enacted.

Carve-Outs and Credit Mulitipliers
In July 2009, HB 3039 created a multiplier for RECs generated by certain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. This legislation requires electric utilities (excluding municipal electric utilities, public utility districts, and electric co-operatives) to develop 20 MW-AC of solar PV by January 1, 2020. Individual PV systems used to meet this target must have a capacity of 500 kilowatts to 5 MW. Systems installed to meet this target that are operational prior to January 1, 2016, will be credited for two kilowatt-hours (kWh) for each kWh generated, with respect to RPS compliance.

Cost Mitigation Measures
There are two mechanisms that serve as cost protections for Oregon consumers -- an alternative compliance payment (ACP) mechanism and an overarching “cost cap” on utility RPS expenditures. In lieu of procuring renewable resources, utilities can pay an ACP to be placed in a holding account to be spent on energy conservation programs or procuring eligible resources. The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) established the ACP rate of $50 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for 2011 and will establish the rate for each investor-owned utility and electricity supplier by October 1 of each even numbered year for the next even numbered year and the following odd year. The governing body will establish an ACP rate for consumer-owned utilities. Electric utilities are not required to fully comply with a renewable portfolio standard during a compliance year to the extent that compliance costs exceed 4% of the utility's annual revenue requirement for the compliance year.

Utilities are also exempt from RPS compliance requirements if the purchase of electricity from eligible sources would:

  • exceed a utility's projected load requirements;
  • require the utility to substitute eligible renewable electricity for sources other than coal, natural gas or petroleum;
  • require the utility to substitute eligible renewable electricity from existing large hydropower located on the Columbia River; or
  • reduce a consumer-owned utility's purchase of the lowest price electricity from the BPA.

Investor-owned utilities are allowed to recover all of their prudently-incurred costs, including above-market costs, associated with RPS compliance in electricity rates.

Investor-owned utilities and electricity service suppliers must submit a compliance report annually to the PUC. Consumer-owned utilities must submit the report to the members or customers of the utility. The PUC can impose penalties against investor-owned utilities or suppliers that fail to comply with the RPS in an amount the PUC determines -- in addition to any alternative compliance payment. Payments will be transmitted to the Oregon Energy Trust to support renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

In addition to the RPS, utilities are required to offer a voluntary green power program whose subscriptions cannot be counted towards RPS compliance, as noted above.  HB 4126, enacted in April 2014, instructed the PUC to study the impact of voluntary renewable energy tariffs for nonresidential customers. The PUC is to use the results of the study to determine whether it is reasonable and in the public interest to allow a utility to offer such a tariff. Any electricity procured for such a program could not be used to comply with the RPS. 

  Julie Peacock
Oregon Department of Energy
625 Marion Street, N.E.
Salem, OR 97301-3737
Phone: (503) 373-2125
Fax: (503) 373-7806
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

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