Oregon Commission Declines to Interfere with PacifiCorp’s Requests for Proposals

On May 19, 2016, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (Oregon Commission) denied Northwest and Intermountain Power Producers Coalition’s (NIPPC) petition for temporary rulemaking and investigation into PacifiCorp’s 2016 requests for proposals (RFP). NIPPC requested the Oregon Commission temporarily prohibit utilities from acquiring new renewable resources outside of the Oregon Commission’s competitive bidding guidelines. Although the Oregon Commission expressed sympathy for the concerns addressed in the petition, it concluded that it did not have the legal authority to prohibit utility ownership and declined to impose a partial remedy that might be seen as legitimizing PacifiCorp’s RFPs.  

The Oregon legislature passed SB 1547, effective March 8, 2016, which requires electric utilities to eliminate coal-fired resources and increases utilities’ Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) from 25% to 50% by 2040. SB 1547 also requires the Oregon Commission to adopt rules “providing for the evaluation of competitive bidding processes that allow for diverse ownership of renewable energy sources that generate qualifying electricity.” ORS 469A.075 (4)(d).

In response to SB 1547, PacifiCorp issued an RFP for new renewable resource acquisition as well as an RFP for the acquisition of new renewable energy certificates (RECs). PacifiCorp argued that time-sensitive opportunities permitted them to avoid the Oregon Commission’s competitive bidding guidelines. Despite declining to revise the RFPs, the Oregon Commission confirmed that PacifiCorp was acting outside of its competitive bidding guidelines and cautioned PacifiCorp that its actions put PacifiCorp at risk for future cost recovery of any acquisitions made pursuant to these two RFPs.

The Oregon Commission also opened permanent rulemaking to implement SB 1547’s diverse ownership provision as well as an investigation as to whether its current bidding guidelines needed to be updated or converted into official rules.

Sanger Law represented the Northwest and Intermountain Power Producers Coalition.

NIPPC represents electricity market participants in the Pacific Northwest, including independent power producers, electricity service suppliers and transmission companies. NIPPC is committed to facilitating cost effective electricity sales, offering consumers choice in their energy supply and advancing fair, competitive power markets.



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