Oregon is blessed with a variety of renewable resources, which help the state maintain low electricity prices without relying on coal. Heavy sustained runoff from snow-capped mountains, as well as high annual rainfall, make Oregon the nation’s second-largest producer of hydroelectric power. The Columbia River cuts through both the Cascade Range and the Coast Range of Oregon, forming the Columbia Gorge, an area of high wind energy potential.
The western part of the state has rapid tree growth due to mild temperatures and abundant rainfall. These forests, along with agricultural waste-products, provide plenty of fuel for the state’s biomass power plants. The Basin and Range country in southern and eastern Oregon, as well as the Cascades in western Oregon, are promising sites for geothermal energy development. All of these resources contribute to a thriving and diverse Oregon renewable energy economy.
Oregon Electricity Prices
Oregon has a deregulated electricity market, where customers can choose their electricity supplier and often access lower electricity prices. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity for Oregon residents in December 2016 was 10.59¢ per kWh, which is 1.62¢ below the average U.S. electricity price of 12.21¢ per kWh.
Residential electricity prices are on the rise in Oregon, having increased more than 42% over the past 10 years. This trend has led to higher electricity bills for Oregon residents, motivating many to switch to renewable energy (i.e. go solar) to save money.
Oregon Energy Mix
Net Electricity Generation By Source:
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2016
From 2005-2015, Oregon increased its solar energy production from about 1% to 11% of total electricity production. Over the same period, electricity production from coal decreased about 31%.
Oregon Energy Sector Employment
According to the Oregon Solar Jobs Census, there were more than 4,500 solar workers in Oregon in 2016, a 50% increase from 2015. Almost half of these jobs are located in Washington County, and most of the jobs are related to the manufacturing and installation of solar panels. Wind power also creates thousands of temporary and permanent jobs in Oregon. For example, the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm began operations in 2012 and has a total capacity of 845 megawatts, enough to power 260,000 homes. This project created about 400 temporary construction jobs and 45 permanent operational jobs.
Fun fact: more Americans are employed by renewable energy than coal, oil, and gas combined, despite wind and solar energy only making up 5% of the total U.S. energy mix. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, solar energy creates over 7 times more jobs than coal or oil per MWh produced. The employment estimates for wind power differ from source to source, but most agree that it also produces more jobs than fossil fuels.
Oregon Utility Companies
Some of the largest utility companies in Oregon are Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, and the Eugene Water & Electric Board. Previously in Oregon, one utility company controlled the entire flow of electricity, from production to distribution. However, the Oregon energy market has since been “deregulated,” meaning that some elements of the service, such as electricity prices, can be set by other companies. This gives Oregon businesses and homeowners the power to choose their electricity supplier.
Your local utility is still responsible for distributing electricity to every home in your area. In return, they send you a monthly bill, which you must pay to keep the electricity flowing. By default, they also produce or purchase your electricity. However, Oregon’s deregulated energy market allows you to switch electricity suppliers to take advantage of lower electricity prices.
Portland General Electric
- Serves approximately 848,452 electric customers in Oregon
- Founded in 1888
- Employs more than 2,600 Oregonians
- Serves approximately 567,603 electric customers in Oregon
- Founded in 1910
- Subsidiary of PacifiCorp
Eugene Water & Electric Board
- Serves approximately 92,000 electric customers in Oregon
- Founded in 1911
- Largest customer-owned electric utility in Oregon
Arcadia Power’s Oregon Renewable Energy Services
With Arcadia Power’s clean energy offerings, homeowners and renters across the state can now sign up to reduce their impact, be more energy efficient, and save on their energy bills while keeping their same utility company. Here are three programs currently available to Oregon residents:
As an Oregon utility customer, you can reduce your impact by matching your home’s electricity usage with renewable energy certificates from wind farms. You can sign up for our 50% Wind Energy plan for free, and begin service with your next utility bill. All you need is your local utility login to link up with Arcadia’s platform and start supporting wind farms each month at no extra cost to you.
We offer a community solar-savings program to homeowners and renters in Oregon. No matter where you live, you can subscribe to community solar projects across the country and start saving on your utility bill each month. There aren’t any installations, site visits, or equipment necessary, and if you move, your savings will even move with you.
Zero-down Energy Efficient Products
Our pay-as-you-save energy program enables Oregon utility customers to access energy efficient products for $0 down. We will offer LED light bulbs, Wiser Air Smart Thermostats, and other home energy products to help you be more efficient and save on your utility bills. As an Arcadia customer, you can simply pay for your efficient products over time using the energy savings you’ll start seeing each month.