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Oregon   Oregon Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

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Last Updated: November 17, 2016

Overview

The Columbia River, of vital economic importance to Oregon, forms much of the state's northern border. Although the state has little in the way of fossil fuel resources, large dams along the Columbia River generate most of the hydroelectric power in the Pacific Northwest.1,2 The heavy sustained runoff from the snowpack in high elevations, as well as high annual rainfall, make Oregon the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power.3 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.4 In the western part of the state, the mild temperatures and abundant rainfall contribute to rapid tree growth, which, along with agricultural waste-products, provides an ample source of biomass.5,6 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.7,8

Manufacturing made up almost one-fourth of Oregon's gross state product in 2015, a share that is twice the proportional contribution of manufacturing to the nation's economy as a whole. Computers and electronics are the state's most important manufactured products.9,10 Although the energy-intensive lumber business, including the manufacture of related forest products, is one of Oregon's principal industries, the state's total energy consumption per capita is moderate.11,12 Most of Oregon's population lives in mild climate zones along the Pacific Coast west of the Cascades and in the Willamette Valley. The residential sector uses less energy per capita than it does in most of the states, placing Oregon 42nd in the nation.13,14,15 Nearly 9 in 10 Oregon households use electricity or natural gas for home heating, and most of the rest heat with wood.16 The electric power sector is Oregon's leading energy-consuming sector, followed by the transportation sector.17

Petroleum

Oregon does not produce any crude oil, does not have any crude oil reserves, and has not had an operating oil refinery since 2008.18,19 The Puget Sound refineries in Washington provide more than nine-tenths of the refined petroleum products used in Oregon. Those products arrive in the state by way of the Olympic Pipeline and by barge. Refineries in Salt Lake City, Utah, and British Columbia, Canada, also provide refined petroleum products to Oregon, and small amounts come by tanker from California and the Pacific Rim countries.20 The use of oxygenated motor gasoline is required throughout the state.21 Most of the ethanol blended with motor gasoline comes from out of state, but Oregon has two corn-based ethanol production plants and two other small facilities, one that is a cellulosic ethanol plant and another that uses waste sugars and starches as feedstock.22,23 Additionally, there are two biodiesel production facilities in Oregon.24

Natural gas

The Mist field in northwestern Oregon is the only producing natural gas field in the Pacific Northwest. Numerous reservoirs have been found in the field since its discovery in 1979. The Mist field includes underground natural gas storage projects in some of its depleted natural gas reservoirs.25 26 Oregon has seven underground natural gas storage fields with a combined capacity of almost 30 billion cubic feet.27,28 Exploration wells continue to be drilled in the Mist field; however, production has declined markedly from its high of 4.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year in the mid-1980s. Annual natural gas production from the Mist field is now less than one billion cubic feet.29,30

Oregon has the only producing natural gas field in the Pacific Northwest.

Natural gas enters Oregon by way of Washington, Nevada, and Idaho, and almost all of it continues on to California markets.31 The Northwest Pipeline system brings natural gas from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, the U.S. Rocky Mountain region, and the San Juan Basin area. It supplies the Portland area and western markets, as well as the northeastern corner of the state. The Gas Transmission Northwest system brings natural gas from Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, and serves the central portion of the state between Stanfield and Malin, Oregon's two natural gas market hubs.32,33,34 The Ruby pipeline, which began operations in the summer of 2011, brings natural gas from the Opal Hub in Wyoming, crossing through Utah and Nevada before terminating at the Malin hub. The Ruby Pipeline's initial design capacity of up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day increased the regional capacity to move natural gas from the major Rocky Mountain basins to consumers in California, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest by more than 50%.35

Several liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals have been proposed in Oregon, and all were originally planned as import terminals. As a result of changing market conditions, only one proposal remains active. That proposed LNG terminal—Jordan Cove at Coos Bay—has pursued federal permits to build an export facility.36,37

In Oregon, the electric power sector consumes the largest share of natural gas. The industrial sector is the next largest user followed by the residential sector.38 Almost two-fifths of Oregon households use natural gas as their primary energy source for home heating.39

Coal

Although coal was mined in southwest Oregon in the late 19th century and in the early 20th century, there are no active commercial coal mines operating in Oregon today.40,41 Instead, limited amounts of coal are shipped by rail from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to fuel a small percentage of the state's electricity generation. The state's only coal-fired power plant is scheduled to stop burning coal by the end of 2020. Minor amounts of coal are shipped from Utah to industrial plants in the state as well.42,43

Electricity

Hydroelectric power dominates electricity generation in Oregon, providing more than half of the net electricity generated in the state.44 In some years that share can approach three-fourths of net generation.45,46 Oregon's four largest electricity generating facilities—John Day, The Dalles, Bonneville, and McNary—are all hydroelectric plants located on the Columbia River.47 They account for two-thirds of the net summer capacity from the 10 largest power plants in the state.48 Smaller hydroelectric plants generate power along several rivers flowing from the Cascade Mountains.49

Hydroelectric power provides more than half of the net electricity generated in Oregon.

Natural gas has been providing an increasing amount of generation in Oregon. In 2015, natural gas-fired power plants provided more than one-fourth of the state's net electricity generation.50 Although about one-third of Oregon's total electricity supply is generated at coal-fired power plants, most of that generation occurs out-of-state.51,52 Oregon's only coal-fired power plant provides less than 5% of Oregon's in-state net generation, and the plant is scheduled for retirement in 2021.53,54 There are no nuclear power plants in Oregon.55

Even though half the homes in the state heat with electricity, Oregon's net electricity generation is greater than its consumption. Some electricity is delivered to other states by way of the Western Interconnection, which runs south from western Canada to Baja California in Mexico and reaches eastward across the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. The Western Interconnection is one of the principal power grids in North America.56,57 Major transmission lines of the Western Interconnection, called the Pacific Intertie, connect Oregon's electricity grid to California's grid, allowing for large interstate energy transfers between the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest.58,59

Renewable energy

Renewable resources, including hydroelectric power, contribute more than two-thirds of the net electricity generated in Oregon.60 In years with increased or prolonged precipitation or snowmelt, renewable resources contribute as much as four-fifths of net electricity generation because of the state's abundant hydroelectric generation capacity.61,62,63 Oregon is the second-largest producer of hydroelectric power in the nation, after Washington, and hydroelectric power provides more than half of the net electricity generated in Oregon.64 Wind energy provides most of the state's net generation from nonhydroelectric renewable resources.65 With facilities in the Columbia Gorge and eastern Oregon hills, Oregon has more than 3,150 megawatts of installed capacity at operational wind farms. In 2014, wind provided one-eighth of Oregon's in-state net electricity generation from all sources, but a drop in the average wind speeds in the region in 2015 slightly reduced wind's contribution.66,67,68 Most of the rest of Oregon's renewably sourced electricity is generated from biomass, primarily wood and wood waste but also from several small landfill gas facilities.69,70 Smaller amounts of electricity are generated from the state's significant geothermal resources and its more limited solar resources.71,72,73

Oregon's geothermal potential is ranked third in the nation, after Nevada and California. Although Oregon currently has only small amounts of electricity generated from geothermal energy, the state's high-temperature geothermal areas could provide as much as 2,200 megawatts of generating capacity.74,75 A 22-megawatt electricity-generating unit using geothermal energy has been operating in Malheur County since 2012. That larger unit followed the installation of a 0.3-megawatt geothermal unit that began producing electricity at the Oregon Institute of Technology's Klamath Falls campus in 2009. A second unit (1.8-megawatts) at the Oregon Institute site began operating in 2014. In 2015, a 3.1-megawatt unit came online in Lake County. Two additional projects are in development and several others have been proposed.76,77 Oregon's geothermal resources have also long been used in direct heat applications. Almost the entire state east of the Cascade Range has ample low- to mid-temperature geothermal resources.78 Oregon has more than 2,000 thermal wells and springs that furnish direct heat to buildings, communities, and other facilities.79

Oregon residents have been using low-to-moderate temperature geothermal resources for more than a century, but biomass is the most abundant and widely used source of renewable thermal energy in Oregon.80,81 Forest covers almost half of the state, and many industrial facilities in Oregon use woody biomass to provide heat, as well as to generate electricity.82 Oregon gives tax credits for the production, collection, and transportation of biomass used for energy production.83

Oregon has teamed with Washington, California, and British Columbia to create the West Coast Green Highway.

Oregon has teamed with Washington, California, and British Columbia to create the West Coast Green Highway, a collaborative effort to promote sustainable transportation solutions through the use of high-efficiency and cleaner-fuel vehicles.84,85 When complete, the West Coast Electric Highway, a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles along Interstate 5 and Highway 99 in the Pacific Northwest, will span the 1,300 miles from the Canadian border to the Mexican border with public fast-charging locations every 25 to 50 miles.86,87 As of October 2016, there were more than 460 electric charging stations in service across Oregon, with more than 1,100 charging outlets.88 In 2013, Oregon joined with seven other states across the nation to form the collaborative Multi-State ZEV Action Plan. The plan's goal is to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the nation's highways by 2025.89

Oregon's renewable energy portfolio standard was enacted in 2007 and required the state's largest utilities—those with more than 3% of the state's load—to meet 25% of their electricity sales with new renewable energy sources by 2025. Small utilities with 1.5% to 3% of the state's load have a target of 10%, and the smallest utilities have a target of 5%.90 In 2016, the Oregon legislature passed a bill that increased the target for large investor-owned utilities to 50% by 2040. The law also requires that those electric utilities that supply California consumers eliminate coal-fired resources from their supply by 2030.91,92,93 Overall, Oregon's electricity generation from renewable resources, other than hydroelectric power, has increased dramatically in recent years. From 2007 through the end of 2015, electricity generation from nonhydroelectric renewable resources increased about fourfold.94,95

Endnotes

1 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Oregon Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed November 7, 2016.
2 U.S. EIA, "The Columbia River Basin provides more than 40% of total U.S. hydroelectric generation," Today in Energy (June 27, 2014).
3 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Table 1.10.B.
4 Sharp, Justin, and Clifford F. Mass, "Columbia Gorge Gap Winds: Their Climatological Influence and Synoptic Evolution," Weather and Forecasting, Volume 19 Issue 6 (December 2004), pp. 970-992.
5 Western Regional Climate Center, Climate of Oregon, accessed September 27, 2016.
6 Oregon Department of Energy, ODOE: Bioenergy in Oregon, Energy from our Forests, accessed September 27, 2016.
7 Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Basin and Range and Owyhee Uplands, accessed September 27, 2016.
8 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Geothermal Technologies Program, Oregon, DOE/GO-102004-2036 (February 2005), p. 1.
9 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Interactive data, GDP and Personal Income, Regional Data, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in Current Dollars, All Industries, Oregon, 2015.
10 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Interactive data, GDP and Personal Income, Regional Data, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in Current Dollars, All Industries, United States, 2015.
11 Business Oregon, Forestry & Wood Products Industry, accessed September 27, 2016.
12 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C13, Energy Consumption per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
13 U. S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census: Oregon Profile, Population Density by Census Tract.
14 Western Regional Climate Center, Climate of Oregon, accessed September 27, 2016.
15 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C13, Energy Consumption per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
16 U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder, Advanced Search, Oregon, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
17 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Oregon Tables CT4, CT5, CT6, CT7, CT8.
18 U.S. EIA, Oregon Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed September 28, 2016.
19 U.S. EIA, Oregon Number of Operable Refineries as of January 1, 2016.
20 Oregon Department of Energy and Oregon Public Utility Commission, Oregon State Energy Assurance Plan, (August 2012), p. 14.
21 American Petroleum Institute, U.S. Gasoline Requirements, accessed September 28, 2016.
22 U.S. EIA, Oregon Profile Data, Environment, accessed October 6, 2016.
23 "U.S. Ethanol Plants," Ethanol Producer Magazine (January 23, 2016).
24 "USA Plants," Biodiesel Magazine (December 8, 2016).
25 Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, History and General Operations, Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, accessed September 29, 2016.
26 Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation, Oil and Gas Permits and Production Information, Mist Gas Field, accessed September 28, 2016.
27 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields, accessed September 29, 2016.
28 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Storage Capacity, accessed September 29, 2016.
29 Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation, Oil and Gas Permits and Production Information, Mist Gas Field, accessed September 29, 2016.
30 U.S. EIA, Oregon Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals, accessed September 29, 2016.
31 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, Oregon, accessed September 29, 2016.
32 Williams Company, Northwest Pipeline, accessed September 29, 2016.
33 National Energy & Gas Transmission, Gas Transmission Northwest Corporation, Gas Transmission Northwest and North Baja Fact Sheet and Pipeline Map, accessed September 29, 2016.
34 Oregon Department of Energy and Oregon Public Utility Commission, Oregon State Energy Assurance Plan (August 2012), p. 14-15.
35 U.S. EIA, "Ruby natural gas pipeline begins service today," Today in Energy (July 28, 2011).
36 Oregon Department of Energy, ODOE: Energy Facility Siting, Liquefied Natural Gas and Oregon, Proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals in Oregon, Background (July 2013).
37 U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Projects Near You (August 31, 2016).
38 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End-Use, Oregon, accessed September 30, 2016.
39 U. S Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Oregon, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
40 Duncan, Donald C., Geology and Coal Deposits in Part of the Coos Bay Coal Field, Oregon, U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey Bulletin 982-B (Washington, 1953), p. 53.
41 Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation, Program Overview, Surface Mining Program, accessed September 30, 2016.
42 Learn, Scott, "PGE's coal-fired Boardman plant gets approval to close in 2020, with fewer pollution controls," The Oregonian (August 13, 2011).
43 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2014 (April 2016), Oregon Table DS-37, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2014.
44 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B.
45 U.S. EIA, "Northwest hydroelectric output above five-year range for much of 2011," Today in Energy (February 21, 2012).
46 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly, DOE/EIA-0226 (2012/02) (February 2012), Tables 1.6.B, 1.13.B.
47 The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, A Guide to Major Hydropower Dams of the Columbia River Basin, accessed September 30, 2016.
48 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, Oregon Electricity Profile 2014, Table 2, Ten largest plants by generation capacity, 2014.
49 The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Power Generation Map, Hydropower projects, accessed October 1, 2016.
50 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.7.B.
51 Oregon Department of Energy, Oregon's Electricity Mix, accessed October 1, 2016.
52 Profita, Cassandra. "The Northwest Struggles With Coal-Generated Power From Out Of State," Oregon Public Broadcasting News (April 8, 2015).
53 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B.
54 U.S. EIA, 2014 Form EIA-860 Data - Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' (Operable Coal Units Only), accessed November 7, 2016.
55 U.S. EIA, State Nuclear Profiles, accessed October 1, 2016.
56 U.S. EIA, Oregon Electricity Profile 2014 , Table 10, Supply and disposition of electricity, 1990 through 2014.
57 U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Learn More About Interconnections, Western Interconnection, accessed October 1, 2016.
58 Bonneville Power Administration, Factsheet, Celilo Converter Station, DOE/BP-3655 (October 2005).
59 Northwest Power Planning Council, Northwest Power Planning Council Briefing Book (January 2001), p. 4.
60 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B.
61 U.S. EIA, "Northwest hydroelectric output above five-year range for much of 2011," Today in Energy (February 21, 2012).
62 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly, DOE/EIA-0226 (2012/02) (February 2012), Tables 1.6.B, 1.13.B, 1.14.B.
63 U.S. EIA, State Electricity Profiles, Oregon Electricity Profile 2014, Table 2, Ten largest plants by generation capacity, 2014.
64 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Table 1.3.B, 1.10.B.
65 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.11.B, 1.14B.
66 American Wind Energy Association, Oregon Wind Energy, accessed October 4, 2016.
67 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.14.B.
68 U.S. EIA, "West Coast wind patterns lead to below-normal wind generation capacity factors," Today in Energy (August 11, 2015).
69 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Table 1.15.B.
70 U.S. EIA, Form EIA-860 detailed data, Annual Electric Generator Data, Form-860 Detailed Data, 3_1_Generator┬Č_Y2014.
71 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.16.B, 1.17.B.
72 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Photovoltaic Solar Resource: Flat Plate Tilted South at Latitude, Annual, Map (November 2008).
73 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Concentrating Solar Resource: Direct Normal Annual, Map (February 2009).
74 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Table 1.16.B.
75 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Geothermal Technologies Program, Oregon, DOE/GO-102004-2036 (February 2005), p. 1.
76 Renewable Northwest Project, Renewable Energy Projects, Oregon Geothermal, accessed October 4, 2016.
77 Geothermal Energy Association, OIT Power Plant Details, accessed October 4, 2016.
78 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Geothermal Resource of the United States (October 13, 2009).
79 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Geothermal Technologies Program, Oregon, DOE/GO-102004-2036 (February 2005), p. 1.
80 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Geothermal Technologies Program, Oregon, DOE/GO-102004-2036 (February 2005), p. 2.
81 Oregon Department of Energy, ODOE: Renewable Energy, Renewable Thermal Energy, Biomass, accessed October 5, 2016.
82 Oregon Department of Energy, ODOE: Bioenergy in Oregon, Energy from our Forests, accessed October 5, 2016.
83 Oregon Department of Energy, ODOE: Bioenergy in Oregon, Biomass Producer or Collector Tax Credit, accessed October 5, 2016.
84 West Coast Green Highway, Partners, accessed October 5, 2016.
85 West Coast Green Highway, Welcome to the West Coast Green Highway Website, accessed October 5, 2016.
86 West Coast Green Highway, West Coast Electric Highway, accessed October 5, 2016.
87 West Coast Green Highway, Welcome to the West Coast Green Highway Website, accessed October 5, 2016.
88 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations, Oregon Electric, accessed October 5, 2016.
89 ZEV Program Implementation Task Force, Multi-State ZEV Action Plan (May 2014), p. 2.
90 Oregon Department of Energy, Growing Utilities and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (January 20, 2012).
91 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standard (updated June 7, 2016).
92 The Oregonian, Your Government, 2016 Session, Senate Bill 1547, accessed October 5, 2016.
93 U.S. EIA, "Higher Oregon renewable portfolio standard targets likely to boost wind power," Today in Energy (April 22, 2016).
94 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (March 2008 and February 2015), Tables 1.6.B, 1.13.B, 1.14.B.
95 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B.