New Solar Plan for Oregon Shows Path to 20% Solar Energy
By Chris Robertson & Associates, LLC.
Solar energy can be used to substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while also reducing the cost of Oregon’s electric utility system and producing other benefits.
To meet Oregon’s commitments to reduce GHG emissions we need to burn less coal and natural gas to produce electricity. The state’s electric utility system needs to be about 80% based on renewable energy. This electric utility “de-carbonization” will require substantial investments in new zero-carbon energy technology.
This Solar Plan for Oregon is a scenario in which 20 percent of Oregon electricity would eventually be produced by solar energy. We would invest about $10 billion in solar photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity over the period 2015-2030. Half would be built on buildings as distributed PV (DPV) and half on land as utility-scale power plants (UPV).
The Solar Plan for Oregon would reduce the cost of the electric utility system in Oregon by about $2 billion in 2012 dollars. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 108 million tons over the life of the solar installations. Other pollution caused by fossil fuel power plants would also be reduced. The cost of this carbon and other pollution reduction is negative – it is better than free.
A large-scale solar program can produce these and other net economic benefits for Oregon. The role of regulators and policy makers can then become that of allocating benefits among utility customers and shareholders, rather than allocating costs.