News

Portland State poised to increase renewable energy use through innovative PGE Green Future Impact program
Author: Emily Quinton, Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: September 27, 2019

Beginning in 2021, Portland State will receive almost a quarter of campus electricity from new Oregon-based solar. PSU is among several commercial utility customers participating in the Green Future Impact program, recently launched by Portland General Electric (PGE). With this single voluntary renewable energy action, PSU is supporting the regional clean energy economy while making significant progress on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.

Taking action to transform the energy sources powering PSU is critical for meeting PSU’s Climate Action Plan goals. With purchased electricity accounting for almost one-third of campus-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) has been exploring options to increase renewable energy use on campus, beyond what will be covered by Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). While the Oregon RPS means that utilities will supply more renewable energy to customers over time, there remains a gap for PSU to fill through additional actions. 

“After evaluating the feasibility of several possible actions to increase renewable energy use on campus, we found  PGE’s Green Future Impact to be a high-value opportunity. Through the collective demand from participants, we are helping to drive the construction of a new solar facility in Oregon” explained Jenny McNamara, Campus Sustainability Director. 

 Enrollment for Green Future Impact was a first-come first-served process - and sold out in just over three minutes, signaling high demand for locally sourced renewable energy options. Our participation means that PSU is committed to purchasing about 10,500 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, for a 15-year contract, which begins when the new 160 megawatt solar facility is operational in 2021. CSO is continuing to explore additional actions, as PGE is just one of three electricity providers for the PSU campus. This means that other actions will be needed to further make progress on climate action and renewable energy goals.
 

CSO looks forward to collaborating with utility providers and students to continue this process. “Renewable energy options are complex and differ state-by-state,” Jenny said. “Students have helped us identify and evaluate our options up to this point, demystifying regulatory and technological challenges and building excitement among operational staff and University leadership.”

Local partners, like the City of Portland, Portland Community College, and Oregon Health & Sciences University are also participating in Green Future Impact. The knowledge and resources shared among partners during the lead up to enrollment highlights the importance of innovative partnerships at the regional level.

For more information about energy management at PSU, visit the sustainability website. PGE has a page dedicated to Green Future Impact with more information about the intent of the product. Contact CSO with any questions: greencampus@pdx.edu.