Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is intended to increase use of renewable resources in the state by establishing the minimum amount of renewable energy that the state’s electricity providers must sell in a given year. This legally-established renewable energy procurement goal gradually increases over time to meet the overall target of 25% renewable power (from the state’s largest utilities) by 2025.
The state profile below explores the design of this policy, highlighting the factors that influence the success of Oregon’s RPS goals and the tradeoffs inherent to it. Once you’re comfortable with the information on this page, you can evaluate the policy’s expected viability with the RPS Feasibility Calculator. You can also use the calculator to change the policy requirements, trajectory, cost cap, and more, to see how altering Oregon’s policy design affects its success.
- 25% of the state’s retail electric sales from ‘large utilities’ must be from renewable sources by 2025, subject to the cost cap
- Carve-out for solar
- Explicit cost cap at 15% of utilities electricity-related revenue, and implicit ‘cost cap’ defined by compliance payments
Carve-outs can create economic opportunities in the state by introducing new or promising technologies into the market. However, these standards limit the utilities’ ability to substitute between renewable energy sources, potentially increasing the cost of the policy. Oregon’s Solar Photovoltaic Capacity Standard requires utilities to develop at least 20 MW of solar capacity by 2025. This requirement does not correspond to the ramp-up schedule in its existing structure in the Oregon RPS. The solar capacity requirement is allocated among 3 utilities in Oregon as follows: PGE (10.9MW), Pacific Power (8.7MW), Idaho Power (0.5MW). In order to count towards this requirement, the solar facility must be between 500 kW and 5 MW in capacity.
Compare the goal established in the RPS to what is being achieved.
The following chart compares the variety of sources currently used to generate Oregon’s electricity. The color of each bar is indicative of the carbon intensity of each source.
Cost Cap Details
Oregon has an explicit cost cap at 4% of a utilities electricity-related revenue. Utilities are not obligated to purchase renewable power that will cause expenditures to exceed this cost cap. Additionally, by allowing alternative compliance payments (ACPs), Oregon sets an effective cap on the premium a utility will be willing to pay for renewable energy. If the renewable energy premium exceeds this cap, but is less than the explicit cost cap, the utility would prefer to meet the standard by making the lower-cost alternative compliance payments. Oregon’s RPS set these compliance payments to $50/MWh for 2011, and required this value be re-established by October 1 of each subsequent even-numbered year. Using the RPS Feasibility Calculator you can make adjustments to the cost cap, determining how this impacts the provision of renewable power and the overall viability of the RPS.
Historic retail prices (¢ / kWh)
The above chart presents historical data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on the price at which residential customers can purchase electricity. Typically, states set explicit cost caps relative to the retail price (as opposed to the lower wholesale price).
Oregon’s RPS was established in 2007 as part of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act of 2007, Senate Bill 838. The purpose was to develop electricity procurement plans for renewable power. HB 3039, enacted in 2009, subsequently created requirements for utilities to develop a total of 20 MW of solar PV by 2020. Renewable energy may be bundled with RECs.
RPS Technical Details
|Eligible Technologies||Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Municipal Solid Waste, Hydrogen, Anaerobic Digestion, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal|
|Geographic Eligibility||Variable by source. Please see Table 2 of Oregon’s RPS Summary|
|Percent of Total Load||72.13%|
|Technology Requirements||20 MW sized 500 kW to 5 MW Solar PV by 2020|
|Sectors||Municipal Utility, Investor-Owned Utility, Rural Electric Cooperative, Retail Supplier|
|Penalty||$50/MWh ACPs for 2011, to be re-established by October 1 each subsequent even-numbered year.|
Tools and other links
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) RPS data page—Datasets available for download in .xlsx format
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Energy Analysis Portal—Resources on renewable energy policies, and interactive web tools
- Energy Information Administration (EIA) U.S. Energy Mapping System—An interactive energy resource map with a myriad of data layers to explore
- DSIRE State RPS Page—Visit for detailed information on RPS and complete legislation
- Oregon’s State RPS Page—A comprehensive registry of statute, rules and reports related to Oregon’s RPS