Power Plant Emissions Standard for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – Oregon

Way back in 2002, only two states, Oregon and Massachussetts, had carbon dioxide emissions standards for new power plants. The Oregon rule was stronger. Enacted in 1997, the Oregon law requires any new power plant to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent below the level of the best existing combustion-turbine plant anywhere in the United States. The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council issues rules periodically to update the standard, as more efficient power plants are built in other states.

Currently, the Oregon emission standards assess new power plants as follows:

  • Base load gas plants:  0.675 lb. CO2 / kWh
  • Non-base load gas plants:  0.675 lb. CO2 / kWh
  • Nongenerating facilities: 0.504 lb. CO2 / horsepower-hour

The standard for base load gas plants applies only to natural gas-fired plants. The standards for non-base load plants and nongenerating facilities apply to all fuels. The Council has not yet set a carbon dioxide emissions standards for base load power plants using other fossil fuels. Rules allow base load gas plants that have power augmentation equipment to meet both the base load and non-base load standards for the respective parts of the plant. The definitions for the facilities are in Division 1.

The standard can be met by any combination of efficiency, cogeneration, and offsets from carbon dioxide mitigation measures.

UPDATE APRIL 2005: In February 2005, the Oregon Climate Trust received $4.3 million to reduce global warming emissions from fees imposed on Portland General Electric. The payment was required to offset carbon dioxide emissions from the new Port Westward power plant. Up to this date, The Climate Trust has funded a diverse $4 million portfolio to offset 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. A Request for Proposals to fund high quality greenhouse gas offset projects is expected to be issued in mid-April.

UPDATE JULY 2007: In May 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted final rules on a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) in an effort to help mitigate climate change. The standard is a facility-based emissions standard requiring that all new long-term commitments for baseload generation to serve California consumers be with power plants that have emissions no greater than a combined cycle gas turbine plant. That level is established at 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. Other states are looking to copy this approach.

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