Today, the Environmental Quality Commission will consider DEQ’s rule recommendation to approve rules that would allow Portland General Electric’s Boardman coal-fired power plant – Oregon’s biggest pollution source – to close by the end of 2020 and possibly even sooner. The Boardman plant emits four million tons of greenhouse gases a year, and it is facing new state regional haze rules that would require around $500 million in pollution controls if the plant were to operate through 2040.
Instead of making that investment, PGE has agreed to install fewer controls short-term and close the plant down by 2020. Some environmental groups want to see the plant closed even sooner to get rid of coal-fired power as soon as possible. The early closure proposals have raised the still-unanswered question of where PGE will get the replacement power, which could come from renewable sources.
The EQC today will consider a department staff recommendation to do the following:
- Repeal the 2009 rule that requires expensive pollution control equipment and allows the plant to operate until 2040
- Ensure the permanent closure of the Boardman coal-fired boiler no later than Dec. 31, 2020
- Use dry sorbent injection controls to meet federal regulations for sulfur dioxide control (as proposed by DEQ in its 2018 option).
- Approve more stringent sulfur dioxide limit from 2018-2020 as proposed by DEQ
- Include a 2015 closure option if PGE decides to close the plant earlier than 2020.
If adopted, DEQ’s proposed rules would allow PGE to close the coal-fired boiler before 2020 at the company’s discretion.