AGA Survey and Statistics System; AGA-CEE Natural Gas Efficiency Programs Survey: Utility expenditures for gas efficiency programs exclude data that have not been released by participating companies at the state level; U.S. Energy Information Administration; and U.S. Department of Transportation.
Statewide Elected Officials Next Election: 2018
Kate Brown (Dem.)Governor
Jeanne Atkins (Dem.)Secretary of State
Ellen Rosenblum (Dem.)Attorney General
Legislature Next Election: 2018Session Dates: 02/01/16-03/03/16
Term: 4 year
President: Peter Courtney
President Pro Tempore: Ginny Burdick
Senate Majority Leader: Diane Rosenbaum
Senate Minority Leader: Ted Ferrioli
Senate Member Breakdown
House of Representatives
Term: 2 year
Speaker of the House: Tina Kotek
Speaker Pro Tempore of the House: Tobias Read
Majority Leader: Jennifer Williamson
Minority Leader: Mike McLane
House of Representatives Member Breakdown
Oregon Public Utility Commission Commissioners: Gubernatorial appointment, Senate confirmation: 5 year termChairperson: Appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Governor: Indefinite terms
Lisa Hardie (D), Chair Appointed by Governor Kate Brown in 2016; term ends in 2020
John Savage (D), Commissioner Appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski in 2003; current term ends in 2017
Stephen Bloom (R), Commissioner Appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber in 2011; current term ends in 2015
The Oregon Energy Plan outlines the history of the state’s energy efforts, basics of energy supply and consumption, issues facing the state and where they should come from here. It is based largely on the premise that in order to plan for the future, policymakers must understand the past.
Goals of the plan include:
Energy independence through conservation and local energy sources, Development of rural economies, Building in system reliability through distributed generation, Reducing GHG emissions,
As it relates to Oregon’s Energy Future, the plan calls out several key components including:
Energy savings and investments: Conservation is the cornerstone of Oregon’s energy policy because it is the most environmentally clean resource and, over the long run, the cheapest; Business Energy Tax Credit for commercial entities that invest in energy conservation; renewable resources; renewable energy manufacturing; recycling; alternative fuels; transportation efficiency or sustainable buildings; Similar Residential Energy Tax Credit; State Home Oil Weatherization Program; Energy-Efficient Manufactured Homes; Residential & Commercial Building Codes; Large Electric Consumer Public Purpose Program; Energy Efficient New State Buildings; Alternative Fuel Vehicles; State Energy Loan Program.
While Oregon had energy efficiency programs dating back to the early 1980’s, in 1989 the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) required gas utilities to consider energy efficiency as a resource when developing their integrated resource plans.
In 2002, the OPUC established The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO); a nonprofit organization administers most of the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. In its first ever long-range strategic plan, the ETO laid out energy savings goals between 2010 and 2014 of 22.5 million annual therms of natural gas. Natural gas targets ramped up from 0.2 percent of 2007 natural gas sales to 0.4 percent in 2014.
Northwest Natural Gas adopted public purpose funding for natural gas energy efficiency programs in Order No. 02-634. This action put control of their energy efficiency plan in the hands of the ETO. Cascade Natural Gas adopted public purpose funding for natural gas energy efficiency programs in and 06-191. This action put control of their energy efficiency plan in the hands of the ETO. Avista Utilities’ natural gas programs are funded through deferred accounts.
Average expenditures for the natural gas programs are $10-$12 million per year. The ETO administers the majority of the statewide natural gas energy efficiency programs.
In January of 2015, the Oregon Senate took up SB 32, which directs the Public Utility Commission to form a work group to study methods by which a public utility that furnishes natural gas may expand service to areas that do not have access to natural gas. This bill requires the Commission to report results of study to the interim committee of the Legislative Assembly related to energy on or before September 15, 2016.
The work group shall review the commission’s authority to authorize, and the commission’s policies on, the
expansion of natural gas services. At a minimum, the work group shall study:
The Commission’s policies regarding the extension of natural gas mains; Mechanisms for funding the expansion of natural gas services, including the use of tariffs, the imposition of charges and fees, the use of unclaimed refunds and the establishment of accounts dedicated to the expansion of natural gas services; The submission of recommendations by public utilities that furnish natural gas; Possible processes for including in a public utility’s rates the cost of projects involving the extension of natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure necessary for providing natural gas; Possible selection criteria for projects involving the extension of natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure necessary for providing natural gas; and The potential rate cap for projects involving the extension of natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure necessary for providing natural gas.
This bill was signed by the Governor on July 21, 2015.
On July 29, 2015, The Northwest Power & Natural Gas Planning Taskforce released a whitepaper entitled Northwest Gas Infrastructure – Looking Forward.
The whitepaper concluded that large new gas users could have more control over future infrastructure expansions than existing users, including utilities. Utilities may have to adapt their preferred gas supply and infrastructure strategies based on the location and timing of infrastructure projects chosen by large new gas users.
The whitepaper also concluded that utilities need reliable pipeline transportation from a robust gas supply. As new users enter the region, and existing users change their gas consumption patterns, what is considered to be a robust supply may change. This could cause utilities to change their preferred gas supply portfolio and/or transportation product (firm or non-firm) needed to ensure reliable delivery of gas to the point of consumption.
The Taskforce is a joint effort of the Northwest Gas Association and PNUCC. The Taskforce’s members largely consist of natural gas utilities, pipelines, electric utilities that consume gas to generate power and industrial user representatives.
In the settlement of Avista’s 2010 rate case, the Oregon Public Utility Commission provided for deferred accounting treatment for two capital additions: the second phase of the Roseburg Reinforcement Project and the Medford Integrity Management Pipe Replacement Project. A subsequent incremental rate adjustment was made on June 1, 2012 to recover the costs of the projects.
NW Natural has a tracker that recovers the cost of the acceleration of bare steel pipe replacement, transmission pipeline integrity costs and distribution pipeline integrity costs.
On October 21, 2014, NW Natural filed Advice No. 14-23 with an effective date of March 1, 2015. Subsequently, NW Natural filed on February 6, 2015, to extend the effective date to April 1, 2015. The filing requests that Northwest Natural's SIP Recovery Mechanism be extended beyond its sunset date of October 31, 2014. On March 3, 2015, NW Natural filed a supplement to Advice No. 14-23. The purpose of this supplemental filing is to add language requiring that SIP costs be subject to an earnings test.
NW Natural noted in its filing that the regulatory component of the SIP program consists of the ability to update NW Natural's rate base on an annual basis to reflect certain system safety investments. The SIP is comprised of three distinct programs: the Bare Steel Program, the Transmission Integrity Management Program (TIMP), and the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP). On March 10, 2015, Staff recommended that the Commission suspend Northwest Natural's Advice No. 14-23, its request to continue Schedule 177, the System Integrity Program Recovery Mechanism, and open an investigation. The Commission adopted Staff’s recommendation and opened an Investigation into Recovery of Safety Costs by Natural Gas Utilities on March 25, 2015.
In July of 2013, Northwest Natural Gas Company (NWN) filed a tariff with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon that could allow the company to install, own, and maintain equipment that allows business customers to fuel their natural gas vehicles with Compressed Natural Gas.
NWN proposed the offering after several businesses indicated they want to switch to or expand the number of their company’s fleet vehicles to natural gas.
This tariff was approved in January of 2014.
On January 28, 2015, the Oregon Public Utility Commission cleared the way for Avista Utilities to offer Compressed Natural Gas Service to its non-residential customers, primarily those with fleets of trucks. Under the PUC order, Avista can build, own, and maintain Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling equipment, including compressors and dispensing equipment, located at its non-residential customer locations. Although primarily for fleet customer locations, public third-party owned petroleum fueling stations that want to dispense CNG could potentially use this service.
Cascade Natural Gas has a decoupling mechanism in effect until Dec. 31, 2015, that adjusts for both conservation-related-demand reductions and deviations from normal weather.
Northwest Natural Gas (NWNG) uses a decoupling mechanism designed to counteract the impact on revenues of changes in average residential and commercial customers' consumption patterns due to conservation efforts.
NWNG has a separate weather-adjusted rate mechanism in place for residential and commercial customers. The program was to be in place through Oct. 31, 2014.
On December 28, 2015, the Oregon Public Utilities Commission issued an order adopting a stipulation that in Cascade Natural Gas’ (CNG) base rate case. The approved agreement allows CNG to continue to utilize its current decoupling mechanism. Additionally, Staff and the Citizens Utility Board will organize a decoupling workshop in September of 2016 to explore whether and how CNG may implement a real-time weather adjustment. The settling parties agreed to initiate full review of the mechanism on September 30, 2019, with any proposed changes to be effective on January 1, 2020. The parties viewed this as a reasonable compromise that will provide a timely opportunity for review and refinement of the decoupling mechanism.