Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

The initial Renewable Portfolio Standard was enacted in 2007, back when only two percent of the State’s electricity needs were satisfied by renewable sources. In 2016, the passage of Senate Bill 1547 amended the Oregon’s RPS, requiring 50 percent of the electricity that is used in the state to come from renewable resources by 2040.

In order to track Oregon’s RPS goals, the department of Energy certifies facilities that generate power from RPS-eligible renewable energy resources. The Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System then issues Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the Oregon-certified energy facilities. Utilities and electricity service suppliers purchase and then retire these RECs to demonstrate compliance with the RPS.

According to Oregon.Gov, RECs are issued for the generation of qualifying renewable power using:

  • Wind energy
  • Solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy
  • Wave, tidal, and ocean thermal energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Certain biomass products, including woody biomass and animal manure
  • Landfill gas and other biogases
  • Small hydropower
  • Thermal energy

Hydropower provides 40 percent of the State’s electricity but most of these facilities that were built decades ago are not eligible for credit toward the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. There is a reluctance to call it a renewable energy based on the impact it has on our fisheries and water flows. Experts say that including all hydropower would significantly lessen the impact of the RPS particularly in states like Oregon where hydropower already provides a substantial amount of electricity. Including it would significantly discourage the development of new renewable sources like solar and wind facilities.