Natural gas industry launching plan to expand presence in region


Portland-based Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance devises $18.3 million, five-year plan to promote efficient use of natural gas.

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BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance would like to make providing natural gas more efficient — similar to what the group did for electricity use. 

The Portland-based alliance has devised a $18.3 million, five-year plan — funded by Northwest Natural, Avista, Cascade Natural Gas, Puget Sound Energy and the Energy Trust of Oregon — to mimic the success experienced by the electric industry, the Portland Business Journal reports.

NEEA’s efforts to promote electric efficiency since 1997 have conserved enough energy to power more than 700,000 homes. It expects its gas efforts will conserve 280 million therms.

The new focus comes as natural gas is seen as a major conservation opportunity that could impact the region’s greenhouse gas emissions. The 2013 Oregon Legislature authorized a new law that allows gas utilities to invest in carbon offset projects and, subject to regulatory approval, pass the cost and eventual savings onto customers. Northwest Natural expects to submit its first such project to the Oregon Public Utility Commission later this spring.

In Southern Oregon, Medford Fabrication is shifting away from coal and is providing parts for Portland General Electric’s Carty Generation Station in Boardman.

The Medford Mail Tribune reports that the manufacturer has built six steel components for the under-construction 440-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant.

“Historically, we’ve been involved in different parts of power-generating facilities,” said company president Bill Thorndike. “This is the first time (we’ve been involved) in heat transfer components that are used in the water-to-steam-to-water process.”

Operations at the Boardman facility are expected to commence in 2016.

“While you look at these pieces in our yard, and they look quite impressive, I can guarantee when you’re driving down I-84 and you’re looking at the power plant once it’s up and running, these things will look relatively small,” Thorndike said. “But it’s an integral part.”

 




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