Energy policy in Oregon

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Energy policy in Oregon
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Quick facts
Energy department: Oregon Department of Energy
State population: 3.9 million
Per capita income: $38,786
Energy consumption
Total energy consumption: 1,014 trillion BTU[1][2]
Per capita energy consumption: 262 million BTU
Energy spending
Total state energy spending: $14,941 million
Per capita energy spending: $3,863
Residential natural gas price: $11.20 per thousand cubic foot
Residential electricity price: 10.13 cents per kWh
See also
Energy on the ballot
Statewide fracking on the ballot
Local fracking on the ballot
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Energy Policy Project
Energy policy in the United States
Energy use in the United States
Energy terms and definitions
Energy policy in Oregon
Fracking in Oregon
Energy policy in Oregon depends on geography, natural energy resources, how electricity is generated, how much energy consumers use, politics and the influence of groups such as environmental and industry organizations. Decisions by policymakers, such as state and local governments, utilities and regulatory agencies, affect all citizens economically and environmentally, and are generally geared toward providing reliable, affordable energy. The cost of energy affects not only home heating and electricity bills, and thus disposable income, but also economic growth, including jobs, investment and the cost of doing business in the state.

How energy is produced and consumed also has an impact on the environment and pollution. Energy policy in Oregon is heavily focused on its Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which aims to increase renewable energy usage. As the infrastructure for producing and delivering renewable energy sources is not as advanced as it is for energy generation from traditional sources, these policies often require subsidies to make the produced energy affordable, and their effects are difficult to measure.

Energy policy involves tradeoffs between providing an affordable, consistent energy supply on the one hand, and limiting pollution and protecting the environment, on the other. How states attempt to balance these two differs between states, and often boils down to costs to consumers versus costs to the environment. This article provides general energy information about the state as the context within which energy policy is made, as well as information about major legislation and public and private groups that play a role in setting energy policy in the state.

See also: "Energy policy in the United States"
See also: "Fracking in Oregon"

Energy overview

State facts

Below are quick facts about Oregon's energy climate.


In Oregon

  • 80 percent of the net electricity generated is from hydropower plants and other renewable energy resources.
  • abundant hydroelectric energy keeps electricity prices low.
  • there is a major transmission line that allows for large interstate electricity transfers.
  • over one-third of households use natural gas as their source of home heating.
  • about 13 percent of the United State’s total hydroelectric energy is produced.
  • the electric power sector is the biggest user of natural gas.[3]

Available energy resources

Oregon’s only traditional energy resource is natural gas, which is found in the Mist gas field in northwestern Oregon. Oregon has no oil or coal reserves. Oregon is a net importer of electricity. About one quarter of the electricity produced in Oregon is from natural gas. This natural gas comes both from the Mist gas field and by pipeline from British Columbia, Alberta, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.[3]

Renewable energy makes up two-thirds of net electricity generation, because of the state’s large hydropower generation and capability. During years of prolonged precipitation and snowmelt, renewable energy accounts for as much as four-fifths of net electricity generation. Hydroelectricity is the primary source of renewable energy in Oregon. Oregon is second only to Washington in hydroelectric energy production. Wind energy provides most of the state’s non-hydroelectric renewable energy.[3]

Consumption and prices

Energy consumption in Oregon
OR energy sector usage chart.png

     Transportation       Residential     Industrial       Commercial
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In 2011, roughly 30 percent of energy consumption in Oregon was used for transportation, and about a quarter was industrial; the remaining was used in the commercial and residential sectors. Hydropower is the most used source of energy, followed by natural gas and petroleum. Prices for energy resources in Oregon are generally below the national average.[3]

Petroleum is used primarily in the form of gasoline and diesel fuel in Oregon, and historically prices of both are above the national average.[5] According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's February 2014 report, the federal excise tax is 18.40 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.40 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. In addition to that, Oregon collects a total tax of 30 cents on every gallon of gasoline, diesel and gasohol fuel, which ranks it the 17th highest gas tax in the United States.[6][7] Oxygenated motor gasoline is required throughout the state of Oregon.[8]

Comparisons tables

The table below compares Oregon’s consumption and spending for energy, prices for natural gas and electricity, and carbon emissions to those of Washington, which has similar population, resources and consumption needs because of climate and geography. Also given are the U.S. averages and the state rankings. All rankings are from highest to lowest, so, for example:

  • Oregon’s rank of 38th in carbon emissions means that carbon emissions are lower in Oregon than in Washington, which has a ranking of 27th.
  • Likewise, per capita income in Washington is higher than the national average, and much higher than in Oregon, which at 34th, ranks 21 places behind Washington’s ranking of 13th in per capita income.
  • These two states are very similarly ranked on per capita spending and the price of natural gas.
  • Per capita energy consumption in Oregon, at 39th, is somewhat lower than in Washington, at 29th.
  • Per capita spending in Oregon is somewhat lower because it ranks 42nd to Washington’s ranking of 38th.
Consumption and Expenditures Comparisons Summary
Type OregonWashingtonU.S. Figures
FigureU.S. Rank*FigureU.S. Rank*Totals
Population3.9 million276.9 million13313.9 million
Per Capita Income Average$38,78634$45,41313$42,693
Total Consumption1,014 trillion BTU322,080 trillion BTU1697,301 quadrillion BTU
Per Capita Energy Consumption262 million BTU39305 million BTU29312 million BTU
Total Spending on Energy$14,941 million31$27,124 million17$1,394,088 million
Per Capita Spending on Energy$3,86342$3,97538$4,474
Price of Residential Natural Gas, dollar per thousand cubic feet$11.2026$11.6322$12.48
Price of Electricity, cents per kWh10.13418.815112.31
Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions, million metric tons (2010)40.33876.1275,631
*Rank is from highest to lowest.

Natural gas is used to heat 38.2 percent of homes in Oregon, this figure is lower than the national average. Electricity is the most common home heating source, and is used in almost half of Oregon homes.[3]

See also: State Energy Rankings to compare all 50 states
Consumption of energy for heating homes in Oregon
Source Oregon 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 38.2% 49.5%
Fuel oil 3.0% 6.5%
Electricity 49% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 1.6% 5%
Other/none 8.2% 3.6%

Production and transmission

Oregon produced 515 trillion BTU of energy in 2011. Of that just over 1 percent was produced from natural gas and biofuels. The remaining 99 percent came from what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as 'other,' which is "assumed to equal consumption of all renewable energies except biofuels."[9]

Energy production by type in Oregon, 2011
Type Amount Generated
(trillion BTU)
% of State % of USA
Natural gas 1.4 0.27% 0.01%
Biofuels 5.7 1.11% 0.3%
Other 508 98.64% 7.13%

About half of the electricity generation in Oregon is produced using hydroelectric energy. Most of the hydroelectricity is produced within the state of Oregon. About a third of the electric energy is from natural gas, some of which is imported from Alberta, British Columbia, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. In 2011, the Ruby Pipeline opened, which transports natural gas from the Opal hub in Wyoming. Oregon’s Mist gas field is the only producer of natural gas in the Pacific Northwest. The rest of the electric energy in Oregon is produced from other renewable resources.[10]

Where electricity comes from in Oregon[11]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Natural gas-fired 1,457,000 29.86% 0.14%
Hydroelectric 2,462,000 50.45% 0.77%
Other renewables 562,000 11.52% 0.28%
Total net electricity generation 4,880,000 100% 0.12%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

Energy policy

Policy Issues
Oregon's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard mandates that 25 percent of energy sold by large utilities come from renewables by 2025; smaller utilities must use 10 percent renewable and the smallest must use 5 percent. Oregon is on track to meet these goals.[12]

Energy policy is made, executed and influenced by many organizations, both public and private, and is codified in the laws and regulations of the state. Each state’s energy policy involves tradeoffs in which energy production and prices are weighed against environmental concerns and efficiency. Oregon's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard mandates that large utilities use 25 percent renewable energy by 2025; small utilities must use 10 percent renewable and the smallest must use 5 percent. Oregon is on track to meet these goals.[13] Oregon currently offers tax credits on certain energy efficient technologies and products such as alternative fuel or solar energy. Oregon is collaborating with British Columbia, Washington and California to make the “I-5 West Coast Green Highway,” that will include fast charging locations every 25 to 50 miles over a 1,300 mile span. Between 2007 and 2012, the use of renewable energy resources in Oregon had tripled.[14][15][16][17][18]

According to the “2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard” published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Oregon ranks fourth in energy efficiency with a score of 37 out of 50.[19] There are differing estimates about the economic impact of these mandates in terms of costs that may affect prices and jobs, as well as the impact on the environment and pollution. Thus, for example, there are many new studies of what is called the "rebound effect" which refers to the fact that "some of the theoretically estimated gains in energy efficiency will be eroded as consumers consume additional goods and services."[20][21]

Major legislation

  • Order No. 89-507 (1989) the Oregon Public Utility Commission's (OPUC) Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) Order No. 89-507 required utilities to consider energy efficiency as a resource when developing plans.[22]
  • SB 1149 (1999) established a public purpose charge, equal to 3 percent of total revenue received from utilities, to help fund energy efficiency, renewable energy and low-income programs. It will provide about $60 million annually for qualified electric programs.[23]
  • ORS 757.649 (1999) requires electricity companies and services to disclose the details of their electric generation emissions and fuel mix to customers in a standard format at least once per quarter. These companies and services must also provide the same information in marketing materials.[24]
  • The Oregon Renewable Energy Act of 2007, established an RPS for electric utilities and retail electricity suppliers. The RPS goals depend on the size of the utility.[25]
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State energy policy

State fracking policy

Energy policy terms

Fracking in the U.S.

Energy use in the U.S.

Energy policy in the U.S.

See also
Local fracking on the ballot

Statewide fracking on the ballot

Ballot measures

Below is a list of energy related ballot measures across Oregon. These ballot measures cover issues from fracking bans, to utilities and related tax questions.

Government agencies and committees

  • The Oregon Department of Energy was created in 1975. Its mission is to "reduce the long-term costs of energy for Oregonians." Their purpose is to encourage the use of renewables in a cost-effective manner through technical help and financial incentives. They also provide oversight of the Hanford nuclear cleanup.[27]
  • The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) is a non-profit organization created in 2002 by the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The ETO administers the majority of the energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in Oregon. The ETO created a long-range strategic plan that implemented energy saving goals of 256 average megawatts of electricity and 22.5 million annual therms of natural gas from 2010 to 2014.[28]
  • The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is a Pacific Northwest based federal nonprofit agency. The BPA is self-funding, using profits from their 31 federal hydropower projects in the Columbia River Basin as well as from their non-federal nuclear power plant and other power plants. It is, however, associated with the U.S. Department of Energy. BPA markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydropower projects in the Columbia River Basin, one non-federal nuclear plant and several other small non-federal power plants. The BPA produces about one third of the electric power in the Northwest.[29]

Major organizations

  • The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) was organized to help the Northwestern market move towards economical energy efficiency. It is an alliance of more than one hundred utility and energy efficiency organizations. It serves more than 600,000 homes each year to assist them in saving power.[30]
  • The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC) is in charge of resource planning in the Columbia River Basin which includes four states, including Oregon. It is focusing on energy efficiency and conservation for meeting load growth and aims to address about 85 percent of all load growth through 2030.[31]

In the news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Oregon+Energy+Policy"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Oregon Energy News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. These figures come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) State Profiles and Energy Estimates, Oregon Overview. Statistics for population and per capita income are for the year 2012; consumption and spending estimates are for 2011; and prices are for October 2013. Updated pricing information is available on the state's EIA profile. Prices will be updated on this page biannually.
  2. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Oregon Overview,” accessed February 5, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Oregon Profile Analysis," December 18, 2013
  4. This chart depicts the state's energy consumption as reported by the EIA for 2011. Click the image to enlarge.
  5. To compare current gasoline prices in Oregon to the U.S averages, go to
  6. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Petroleum Marketing Monthly," February 2014
  7. The Tax Foundation, "State Gasoline Tax Rates, 2009-2013," March 21, 2013
  8. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Oregon State Energy Profile," December 18, 2013
  9. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Energy Data System, Production,” accessed February 20, 2014
  10. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Oregon Overview,” accessed February 20, 2014
  11. These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Oregon Overview," accessed February 20, 2014
  12. Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Energy Mandates in the States," accessed February 21, 2014
  13. Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Energy Mandates in the States," accessed February 21, 2014
  14. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Oregon Profile Analysis," December 18, 2013
  15. Oregon Department of Energy, "About Oregon's Residential Energy Tax Credit Program," accessed February 19, 2014
  16. According to a report called "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, the cost of electricity in states with RPS were on average 38 percent higher in 2010 than in states without a RPS.
  17. Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," accessed March 24, 2014
  18. Manhattan Institute, "The High Cost of Renewable-Energy Mandates," February 2012
  19. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard," accessed February 21, 2014
  20. International Risk Governance Council, "The Rebound Effect: Implications of Consumer Behavior for Robust Energy Policies," accessed March 3, 2014
  21. Scientific American, "How Bad Is the Rebound from Energy Efficiency Efforts?," May 21, 2013, accessed March 3, 2014
  22. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "Oregon Utility Policies," accessed February 21, 2014
  23. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "Oregon Utility Policies," accessed February 21, 2014
  24. Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, "Fuel Mix and Emission Disclosure," accessed February 21, 2014
  25. Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, "Renewable Portfolio Standard," accessed February 21, 2014
  26. Oregon State Legislatures, "Legislative Committees," accessed March 13, 2014
  27., "Oregon Department of Energy," accessed February 21, 2014
  28. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "Oregon Utility Policies," accessed February 21, 2014
  29. Bonneville Power Administration, "About Us," accessed February 21, 2014
  30. Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, "About," accessed February 21, 2014
  31. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "Oregon Utility Policies," accessed February 21, 2014