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Oregon Terminates Gas-Fired Power Plant Proposal Near Columbia River

Oregon Terminates Gas-Fired Power Plant Proposal Near Columbia River
A cleared section of dirt marks the beginnings of a roadway on October 22, 2020, on the site where the Perennial Wind Chaser facility was once proposed, adjacent to the Hermiston Generating Project in Umatilla County. (photographer: Ben Lonergan, East Oregonian)
September 27, 2022
Categorie(s): Latest News

Friends of the Columbia Gorge & Columbia Riverkeeper Joint News Release

Contacts:
Stan Hall, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, 503-307-3228
Lauren Goldberg, Columbia Riverkeeper, 541-965-0985

Hermiston, Oregon (September 27, 2022)—Today, the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) officially ended Perennial Power Holdings, Inc.’s efforts to build a 415-megawatt fracked gas power plant near the Columbia River in western Umatilla County. EFSC decided to terminate the company’s site certificate, an outcome championed by Oregonians concerned about local health impacts and climate pollution from the facility. Perennial would have been one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Oregon; over its 30-year lifecycle, the plant would have emitted at least 30 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution. (1)

"Over the last six years, public opposition has prevailed in stopping several proposed fossil fuel plants that would have harmed air quality in the Columbia River Gorge and exacerbated climate change," said Nathan Baker, senior staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. "Perennial was the last of these plants to be stopped. Oregon’s future begins today, free of new fossil fuel power plants, which are dirty dinosaurs of a bygone era.”

In 2015, EFSC issued a site certificate for the proposed gas power plant, but the company never secured a power buyer and faced strong public opposition and a series of lawsuits by environmental organizations. Last year, Perennial announced plans to abandon the gas facility. Shortly following the announcement, the company changed course and announced negotiations with a prospective buyer. The sale never transpired.

“This is a huge win for Oregonians and the climate,” said Lauren Goldberg, executive director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Perennial would have locked the state into at least thirty years of additional climate-destroying pollution. The message is clear: our future is in clean energy, not dirty fossil fuels.”

Over the last decade, fracking has led to a significant increase in the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. On a short-term basis, methane is over 80% more impactful than carbon dioxide in causing climate change. The Perennial project also would have emitted up to 59 tons of particulate matter, 19 tons of sulfur dioxide, 111 tons of nitrogen oxides, 213 tons of carbon monoxide, 34 tons of volatile organic compounds, and six tons of sulfuric acid mist per year.

In November 2020, Columbia Riverkeeper and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, represented by in-house counsel as well as Crag Law Center and the Law Office of Karl G. Anuta P.C., sued the Oregon Department of Energy and Perennial to challenge the agency's unlawful attempts to keep the Perennial project alive, after its site certificate by law expired and should have been void. This case is expected to be resolved soon, now that EFSC has decided to formally terminate the Perennial site certificate.

The Perennial project was the last of numerous proposals for new gas-fired power plants in Oregon to be abandoned over the past seven years, starting with the demise of the Troutdale Energy Center and South Dunes Power Plant in 2016, then PGE’s Carty Units 2 and 3 in 2018, and now Perennial. With the abandonment of Perennial, no proposals to build any new gas-fired power plants in Oregon remain pending with EFSC. A new Oregon law that took effect in September 2021 prohibits EFSC from approving construction of new and expanded power plants that would burn natural gas or other fossil fuels.

Resources:

Watchdogs Contest Proposed Oregon Fracked Gas Power Plant, November 2019
Oregon Allows Controversial Fracked Gas Power Plant to Begin Construction, November 2020

(1) This estimate is based on Perennial’s filings with the EFSC. Not including methane releases, Perennial’s estimate comes out to 0.964 million tons each year. See Filing Exhibit M-DD at 624 (stating "Gross CO2 emissions for 30 years’ operation at non-base load, at average site conditions, and for 4,400 hours per year were estimated to be approximately 57,834 million pounds of CO2.").