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RNP Press Release
January 8, 1997

Conservation, renewable energy, consumer protection form basis of agreement between advocates and PGE on Enron merger

Many of the region’s leading environmental and consumer groups today announced a formal agreement with Portland General Electric (PGE) and ENRON Corp. that details a host of conservation, renewable energy, low-income and consumer protection commitments to be implemented upon the completion of the PGE/ENRON merger. With these commitments from the companies came support from the public interest parties for the PGE/ENRON merger.

The groups noted that, while the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) still needs to address some important rate issues related to the proposed merger, the signed agreement substantially boosts its public benefits.
The agreement outlines programs, projects and advocacy efforts on environmental and consumer issues that PGE/ENRON will support and implement over the next few years.
“The consumer and environmental elements described in the agreement provide a model for the industry as it evolves to greater competition,” said Ralph Cavanagh, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“We are delighted that this agreement secures PGE’s commitment to invest in wind and geothermal renewable energy projects. Those projects will provide valuable experience to the company and benefit both the environment and the economy in our state,” said Rachel Shimshak, director of Renewable Northwest.
One aspect of the agreement is that PGE will file and support a system benefit charge reserving 3% of its retail electric revenues for public purposes such as conservation, renewables, and low-income weatherization.
“PGE’s commitment to adopt a system benefits charge clearly indicates that the company wants to be a leader in securing funds for conservation and low-income weatherization during the transition to a competitive electric industry,” said Nancy Hirsh, policy director of the Northwest Conservation Act Coalition.
“This agreement represents a significant commitment by PGE and ENRON to protect Oregon’s environment,” said Bob Jenks, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB). “In addition, CUB and PGE have committed to working out the remaining issues which relate to the benefits and rate impacts of the merger,” he added.
The provisions in the agreement include that:
• PGE will invest in about 30 average megawatts of wind and geothermal renewable energy projects.
• PGE will file with the OPUC and support a non-bypassable charge of 3% of its electric service revenues to fund conservation, renewable energy, and low-income weatherization. This benefits charge will ensure that quality programs and services will be offered to customers for a ten year period.
• PGE and the parties will work to establish a new statewide all fuels fund for low-income energy bill assistance, and PGE will continue their corporate contributions to low-income assistance agencies.
• PGE will support a proceeding at the OPUC to investigate how utility costs are being divided by customer classes, and will provide a grant to the public interest parties to secure experts for that proceeding.
• The OPUC will determine other financial benefits associated with the merger.
• PGE will support a proceeding at the OPUC that considers the legal and regulatory separation of the regulated local distribution company from the competitive electric power generation company. Separation prevents the competitive side of the business from gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace by virtue of its corporate relationship with the regulated distribution side of the business.
• PGE will implement environmental projects to improve habitat or native plant and animal populations around their hydro electric plants and create a fund for those efforts.
The public interest parties are the Northwest Conservation Act Coalition, Renewable Northwest, Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board, Northwest Environmental Advocates, Oregon Energy Coordinator’s Association, Community Action Directors of Oregon, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Heat, the Nature Conservancy of Oregon, Oregon Trout, Trout Unlimited, Native Fish Society, and American Rivers.
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For more information contact:
Rachel Shimshak, Director
Renewable Northwest Project
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