Energy | Ecotrope

State regulators back early Boardman closure

Ecotrope | Dec. 2, 2010 6:15 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:43 p.m.

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The Oregonian reports that state regulators have recommended approval of Portland General Electric’s plan to close the Boardman coal-fired power plant by the end of 2020. The early closure plan has been much debated this year as new air quality regulations promise to raise the cost of doing business at Boardman.

The final word will come next week, when the Environmental Quality Commission votes on the proposal, which would allow PGE to save money on short-term pollution controls as long as the plant closes by 2020, as opposed to 2040 as the company had planned.

From The O:

“The decision has big consequences for ratepayers: PGE says closing the relatively low-cost coal plant and finding reliable replacement power could bump up electricity rates as much as 4.5 percent.

It will also affect air quality from Mount Hood to the Columbia River Gorge to Hells Canyon, all affected by haze generated by Boardman’s emissions.”

Boardman isn’t the only coal plant considering closure rather than investing in pollution controls and equipment upgrades to meet new air quality regulations. Some plants around the country are turning to natural gas instead.

Biomass is among the alternative power sources suggested to replace Boardman’s coal. But one of the more promising crops, giant reed can become a noxious weed given the right climate, raising questions about whether it should be grown in Oregon.

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