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Portland General shutters Oregon's last coal plant

Portland General Electric Co. on Oct. 15 shuttered its 585-MW coal-fired Boardman Generating Station in Morrow County, in north-central Oregon, marking the end of coal generation in the state.

"Our customers are counting on us to deliver a clean energy future," Maria Pope, president and CEO of Portland General Electric, or PGE, said in an Oct. 15 statement. "PGE's Boardman closure is a major step on our path to meeting Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and transforming our system to reliably serve our customers with a cleaner, more sustainable energy mix."

PGE owns 90% of the Boardman coal plant, which started operations in 1980, while Idaho Power Company owns the other 10%. Demolition and removal of the plant is scheduled to begin in 2022 following environmental cleanup in 2021.

The closure of the facility 20 years ahead of schedule was in line with a 2010 multi-stakeholder agreement to slash air emissions in Oregon's power sector.

In Boardman's place, PGE has lined up a series of renewable energy and energy storage contracts. That includes deals with NextEra Energy Resources LLC for 300 MW from the Wheatridge Wind Energy Facility as well as 50 MW of solar and 30 MW of battery storage from the Wheatridge Solar & Battery Storage Facility, which are adjacent projects located near Boardman.

The Wheatridge wind farm, which PGE will partly own, is in the final stages of construction and expected online later this year. The nearby solar-plus-storage project is scheduled for completion in 2021, as part of a wave of solar farm development in Oregon.

To meet its near-term energy needs as part of its Boardman retirement strategy, PGE is also purchasing power under five-year contracts from federal hydroelectric marketer Bonneville Power Administration and from Douglas County PUD No. 1, a locally owned utility in Washington. PGE plans to issue a request for proposals in 2021 for additional "non-emitting capacity resources," it said.