MY VIEW • Energy efficiency must be multipronged effort
by: Kyle Green, Solar power is a vital resource if Oregon is going to meet its goal of generating 25 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Despite Oregon's reputation for soggy weather, solar energy is a viable option for helping to meet the region's growing energy needs in a sustainable manner. But to do so, businesses, utilities and policymakers need to work together to encourage more solar development.

Over the next 20 years, Portland General Electric projects the demand for electricity among our customers alone will nearly double. We're working with customers to identify new generation options (with a strong emphasis on renewable resources), we're promoting energy efficiency and renewable purchasing options and we're exploring new technologies.

All of these efforts can allow customers to make a difference in the environment and even in their overall energy bills.

In the coming weeks, utility customers, third-party solar developers, consumer advocates and utility representatives will work with the Oregon Public Utility Commission in an effort to better clarify the statutes and rules concerning third-party development of solar resources.

This is the right venue and the right process for addressing any outstanding issues or questions. PGE strongly supports the development of solar power in the state and will be an active participant in these discussions on behalf of our customers.

Solar power is an important part of Oregon's energy future. It's not only a clean, renewable resource, it's also great for the economy. Our region has established itself as a hub for companies interested in developing renewable energy, including a number of solar manufacturing companies.

Currently, Oregon has processes in place that allow third parties to develop solar projects and enter into innovative net metering arrangements. This already has helped spark a number of solar energy projects, and we applaud those efforts.

It's important that we not lose sight of the reasons why the solar industry is choosing this area: the reliability of our electric system, the manner in which Oregonians have embraced renewable power, and the fact that we have rules and processes in place that welcome the development of new solar projects.

Our customers have shown their commitment to renewable energy - helping to make us the No. 1 provider of green power to the residential market in the nation. They're demonstrating by their actions that they want to lessen their environmental footprint and have an active say in the type of energy they use.

PGE wants to do everything we can to support our customers, which is why we're working to bring a number of solar projects forward and are considering options for adding solar to our own future energy mix.

We also intend to work diligently on behalf of our customers to ensure that the strong momentum that is helping to drive development of a solar market in Oregon is maintained and that projects already in the works are not delayed.

If we're going to meet the state's goal of having 25 percent of our region's electric load come from renewable energy sources by the year 2025 in a way that benefits our customers, we need to work together. We also need to retain every tool in our toolbox to make that goal a reality.

Bill Nicholson, PGE's vice president for customers and economic development, lives in Northwest Portland.

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