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Emerald utility seeks voters' OK to invest in renewable energy

The Emerald People's Utility District is ready to invest in wind farms and other renewable energy projects - but first needs a thumbs-up from voters. Measure 20-126 on the Nov. 7 ballot would allow EPUD to enter into multiple contracts for up to 100 megawatts of electricity generated by renewable resources. EPUD already allows customers to buy "green" power that it purchases from other sources of renewable energy. But now the utility is ready to actually invest in renewable energy projects - which can require debt service payments on money borrowed for construction, even if no electricity is ever produced.

The Emerald People's Utility District is ready to invest in wind farms and other renewable energy projects - but first needs a thumbs-up from voters.

Measure 20-126 on the Nov. 7 ballot would allow EPUD to enter into multiple contracts for up to 100 megawatts of electricity generated by renewable resources.

EPUD already allows customers to buy "green" power that it purchases from other sources of renewable energy. But now the utility is ready to actually invest in renewable energy projects - which can require debt service payments on money borrowed for construction, even if no electricity is ever produced.

"We hear from our ratepayers that this is what they want," said spokesman Bob Mieger about EPUD's foray into low-cost renewable resources. "There are risks involved, but if EPUD does its due diligence, some of that risk is minimized."

The need for voter approval stems from changes in state law made after some Northwest utilities bought into nuclear plants in the 1980s. Some of the plants never produced any electricity, but the utilities involved still had to cover the construction costs.

In EPUD's case, voter approval will be needed only this... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Emerald People's Utility District is ready to invest in wind farms and other renewable energy projects - but first needs a thumbs-up from voters.

Measure 20-126 on the Nov. 7 ballot would allow EPUD to enter into multiple contracts for up to 100 megawatts of electricity generated by renewable resources.

EPUD already allows customers to buy "green" power that it purchases from other sources of renewable energy. But now the utility is ready to actually invest in renewable energy projects - which can require debt service payments on money borrowed for construction, even if no electricity is ever produced.

"We hear from our ratepayers that this is what they want," said spokesman Bob Mieger about EPUD's foray into low-cost renewable resources. "There are risks involved, but if EPUD does its due diligence, some of that risk is minimized."

The need for voter approval stems from changes in state law made after some Northwest utilities bought into nuclear plants in the 1980s. Some of the plants never produced any electricity, but the utilities involved still had to cover the construction costs.

In EPUD's case, voter approval will be needed only this one time to allow the district to enter into multiple contracts. The total production allowed by the measure, 100 megawatts, is comparable to what EPUD now produces for all its residential and commercial customers in Lane and Linn counties.

Mieger said EPUD's "lofty goal" is to one day have all its power from renewable resources - or at least to meet Gov. Ted Kulongoski's challenge to utilities that 25 percent of their power load come from renewable resources by 2025.

EPUD's only current renewable resource is the Short Mountain Methane Power Plant, which accounts for about 3 percent of the utility's power supply.

If voters say yes to the measure, EPUD is looking to invest in a wind farm along the Columbia River Gorge, Mieger said. A previous opportunity to invest in wind energy was missed because the utility didn't have the time to first seek voter approval, he said.

Other potential renewable resources include solar, geothermal and biogas energy. EPUD is especially excited about potential investment in technology that looks at harnessing the energy of ocean waves, Mieger said.

EPUD provides electricity over 550 square miles of rural areas surrounding the Eugene-Springfield hub. Its 19,000 customers are scattered from Cottage Grove to the south and Coburg and Junction City to the north, and from Dexter to the east to Veneta and Noti to the west.


Source: http://www.registerguard.co...

OCT 26 2006
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