A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Question for the DEQ: How much and when?

Written November 30th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

This fireplace is fed by natural gas, which Oregon’s Climate Protection Program does not like.

The Oregon state government is about to adopt a program to all but stop the use of fossil fuels over the next 28 years. It seems strange that in describing the program for the general public, the administration of Governor Brown never says what this would do to citizens in Albany and elsewhere in the state.

The Department of Environmental Quality has been beavering away on this for much of the last two years. Now, on Dec. 16, the Environmental Quality Commission will enact the program by adding it to a chapter of administrative rules. This avoids the messy job of passing it as a law, which the legislature failed to do because of a Republican boycott in the Senate.

“The rules,” says the DEQ, “would set an enforceable and declining limit, or cap, on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used throughout Oregon, including diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane, used in transportation, residential, commercial and industrial settings.”

The agency put out a four-page “overview” of the program.. Never does it even hint at the likely effect it would have on residents and on the places where they live and work. There may be estimates buried somewhere in the digital mountains of technical material amassed since 2020. But nothing to let people know how their lives, and their expenses, are going to change.

The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow down climate change. But this is fiction. Nothing Oregon does can have any noticeable effect on the climate. To the people drafting and imposing these reductions, the actual motivation is that it’s the right thing to do regardless of the effect.

According to the DEQ’s “overview,” the program is designed to reduce Oregon emissions of tons of “carbon dioxide equivalent” 80 percent by 2050.

A drastic reduction like that has to mean all but abolishing most routine use of fossil fuels including natural gas. So the question is: How would this change things for the roughly 2.5 million Northwest Natural gas customers, and those of the other gas companies?

How much more expensive is natural gas going to get as the caps take effect? How soon will natural gas no longer be available at all, so that all these households have to buy electric furnaces and stoves?

I’ve reached out to the DEQ on those points. If I get an answer, I’ll let you know. (hh)

29 responses to “Question for the DEQ: How much and when?”

  1. MK says:

    How exactly should we move away from fossil fuels?

  2. thomas earl cordier says:

    the point is–they don’t give a damn what effect those decisions will have on anybody. Typical left-wing Dems autocratic blind stupid lemmings.

  3. William says:

    How exactly should we (the people) move away from….Oregon?
    That seems the better question.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Smells of eco-fascism: state control of companies, production, and individual lives to serve an environmental agenda.

    As you mention, it’s happening through rules, not laws.

    You don’t have a choice.

    You must sacrifice your own interests to the “organic whole of nature”, as determined by the rule writers at the Oregon DEQ, of course.

    And now that you’ve transgressed by asking good questions, the cancel culture is probably coming for you, Hasso.

  5. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Quote from DEQ:

    “Modeling conducted as part of the rulemaking process shows that the program will significantly reduce emissions without disrupting Oregon’s economy. It also points to additional benefits, such as cleaner air and reduced illness and death from pollution, that amount to billions of dollars in health savings for Oregonians.”

    Imagine that, billions saved. No disruption to Oregon’s economy.

    Move along, nothing to see here.

  6. Craig says:

    What will happen when the lawmakers figure out they are losing the revenue generated by the taxes on the fossil fuels?

  7. Richard Vannice says:

    If the Governor is so enthused about this why does she, and for that matter, the President still drive a fossil fueled vehicle?

  8. Malia Brock says:

    An agency normally adopts Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) in response to Oregon Rule Statutes (ORS). ORS (laws) are first passed in the Legislature to provide the purpose and parameters of each law, the intent of the law and empowers the Agency the statutory authority to adopt and enforce the law in the form of an OAR that the Agency drafts. Each OAR reflects the ORS that provides it it’s statutory authority underneath the adopted OAR.

    It should be noted that Ageny’s authority is limited to the purpose and purview of that Agency and defined in statute. Additionally, statutes grant each Agency “broad powers” within general guidelines granted by the Legislature (ORS). This allows each Agency to adopt rules on their own initiative within their purview.
    Adopting rules using the Agency’s broad powers can result in overreach of an Agency’s statutory authority. Without a statute passed by the Legislature to provide guidelines for rules adopted, it will be interesting to see what legal precedent DEQ will use to adopt rules of this magnitude as this appears to circumvent conventional practice and muddy this entire accepted process by the use of questionable powers and process.

  9. Patricia Eich says:

    So are there plans for enough affordable electric vehicles, not to mention enough electricity in the power grid? Does that mean jets and other aircraft would no longer allowed in Oregon? That might affect tourism. What about trucks that deliver most of what we use?
    We replaced our electric furnace and hot water heater with natural gas and find it less expensive and more efficient.
    I’m sure people much smarter than me have answers but I don’t think it’s the government and 23 years seems like a very short time. What me worry? I’ll be gone by then. Oh wait, we have children and grandchildren, they’ll figure it out.

  10. GregB says:

    Bureaucratic government out of control!

  11. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    And these “rules” are probably a lesser concern to most Albany citizens given they won’t have to swap out their natural gas appliances until 2050.

    More foreboding is HB 2021, “100% Clean Electricity for All” , passed in June.

    By 2040 every utility and service provider must achieve 0% emissions from fossil fuels.

    And here is what you need to worry about. There is a part of this law that enables cities to create a “green tariff” where consumers pay more to utilities for “cleaner” power. Any guesses on how the Albany City Council will vote on implementing this tax?

    Much higher electric bills are coming, and rather quickly.

  12. Bob Woods says:

    “Chicken Licken, is a European folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes that the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Similar stories go back more than 25 centuries.”

    How disappointed you will be when it turns out to be vastly less than you anti-science luddites believe.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Bob effectively says, “I represent science.”

      Gee, haven’t we heard this from someone else on a different issue?

      Science is an iterative process for investigating truths about nature.

      You, Bob, are the antithesis of “science.”

    • M. Richner says:

      Note to Bob Woods: You have misrepresented the moral of the Henny Penny or Chicken Licken story. It is the so-called “environmentalists” who are hoping to engender mass hysteria by convincing the people that the “the sky is falling.”

      I am able to determine my own wants and can utilize my own resources to my satisfaction better than my neighbor could, or the guy down the street could, or even the anointed grafters in Salem who believe only they know what is best for me.

  13. Abe Cee says:

    I’m curious where/how all this new electricity will be created/generated. Hydropower won’t be useful as the cry is tear out dams, solar is limited in much of Oregon, nuclear has most of the public scared, coal is a major pollutant. Maybe it will come from all the hot air generated in Salem?

    • Bob Woods says:

      You are woefully wrong. A home solar system can generate enough power, even with clouds, to cover the entire electricity usage for a year.

      “Oregon has significant solar generation potential, with a 2012 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study estimating annual technical potential for solar in Oregon at 1,775 terawatt hours; Oregon’s total 2018 electricity demand was around 51 terawatt hours. This potential, coupled with improvements in solar technology and falling costs, means Oregon is likely to see increased development of solar resources​.”


      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        “A home solar system can generate enough power, even with clouds, to cover the entire electricity usage for a year.”

        Bob, as a person who represents science, you seem ignorant of a fact my grade school grandkids understand.

        A home solar system generates zero kWh’s during darkness.

        And if your house is grid-dependent, the home solar system goes down when the grid goes down, meaning zero kWh’s being generated even on a sunny summer day.

        So, on a good day, the system covers no more than half of “entire electricity usage” each day.

        By the way, you’re communicating with someone who has a home solar system.

        • Bob Woods says:

          Then you should know better. You are dead wrong. It’s not about daytime/night, it about kWh generated vs kWh used.

          Last August, my house used 45 kWh hours a day, the highest use of the year by far, yet a 10kWh solar system generates up to 10 kWh per HOUR, and in August Salem gets over 13 hours of sunlight. That’s way more than used and the unused amount goes back into the grid. It’s called Net Metering, and you can actually watch your electric meter run backwards.

          Solar system are sized to approximate total power generation over the entire year, winter, spring, fall, and summer to net out somewhere near break even. Why break even? Because having a system larger than your estimated usage means you’re paying for more cells than you need.

          That extra electricity generated in the summer is great because summer electric usage nationwide is the peak electricity usage. So more solar panels making electricity means the utilities have less of a need to expand power plant generating capacity to meet summer peak usage. In winter your panels won’t generate as much total power as in the summer, but you also use a whole lot less power, 23 kWh/day last Dec-Jan in my case. And that exactly the time when you want to draw utility power, because that’s when the utilities have a LOT of excess generating capacity. But they have the MOST excess capacity in the spring and fall.

          If the grid goes down people with solar can use their battery backup system if they choose to have one like I have.

          You may have solar panels, but you’re showing gross ignorance, just trying to play semantic games.

          • Hasso Hering says:

            I’d be careful about calling people ignorant. I’m wondering how it helps that your meter is running backward during the day if the grid blacks out during the night because two or three million electric cars and trucks in Oregon — in the distant future — are all hooked to chargers so they’ll be usable for the morning commute. Seems like during a winter night in 2050 or so, the grid in Oregon will have to be fed by batteries since thermal power plants will have been phased out. Either that, or electricity will have to be rationed.

          • Gordon L. Shadle says:

            Perhaps you should revise your statement to read, “A home solar system with a battery backup system can keep you off the grid during the night and for a short period during a grid outage.”

            A Tesla 2 Powerwall costs about $10,500. It can store 13.5 kWhs. One battery is not a whole house solution, however. You’ll need two, probably 3 to cover your 45 kWh per day need. This is great, but batteries are pretty much a niche product for folks like you who have lots of cash. They won’t save you more in electricity cost than it costs to purchase & install the batteries.

            And Hasso is right. A solar system with battery backup doesn’t provide much peace of mind if Oregon’s grid becomes unreliable or has to be rationed.

            I’m a big fan of home solar systems. The return on investment pencils out. I’ll wait for the price of batteries to come down before making that leap. Also, I’ll pray that Hasso is wrong about the future where roving blackouts become the norm.

          • Bill Kapaun says:

            Interesting how the “earth muffin” uses 45kw/day during August and the “redneck” uses 8.5. Typical hypocrisy.

  14. Bob Woods says:

    “The U.S. installed 5.7 gigawatts (GWdc) of solar PV capacity in Q2 2021 to reach 108.7 GWdc of total installed capacity, enough to power 18.9 million American homes. The US officially surpassed 3 million installations across all market segments, the vast majority of which are residential systems.Sep 14, 2021”

    “The U.S. solar industry posted record growth in 2020 despite Covid, report finds”

    Just because you don’t follow what is happening, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
    The great solar stampede is just getting underway.

    BTW: You can charge your electric car from your solar cells too. When you make excess solar energy, it’s your non-solar neighbor who gets the extra power…

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Like I said before, I’m a fan of solar. The cost is justifiable and within reach of most homeowners.

      My jury is still out on getting a battery backup system.

      And my jury is really out there on getting an EV due to high cost and range anxiety.

      Going “green” (saving dollars) is my motivation.

      And if you want to charge your EV from your home solar system, then you are looking at additional expenses (a few more solar panels, an integrated inverter & level 2 charger, modifications to your box). Add several thousand dollars more in cost.

      If you’re flush with cash and are motivated more by the other “green” (eco), go for it Bob.

      And hope that Hasso’s concern about Oregon’s future, zero emissions grid get in the way of all those dollars you are spending.

      • Bob Woods says:

        Last winter, there were major outages in Salem and a large area up to Portland because of the ice storm. Our development has underground distribution and happens to be very nears a fairly new large middle school which has a distribution branch. We were only out about 12 hours and relied on the fireplace. The older development across the street was out 7 to 12 days. Parts of the county in the farming areas were out 3 weeks or more.

        We’re installing 14kWh of battery backup. That will be able cover a minimal usage scenario of furnace/blower, refrigerator, some lights and plugs for up to 3 days. Even with clouds, we will still get some additional power during daylight. If it’s like last year when we had bright sunshine, we’ll have no problem refilling the battery daily. And when the grid comes back on any excess power goes back into the grid.

        The 45 kWh days was August/September with air conditioning being the big driver. My median use per day over the year was 25.89 kWh, with a system production rated at 10 kWh per hour. “Your mileage may vary” as they say.

        The State of Oregon provides a small battery subsidy of up to $2,000, and the federal tax credit knocks off at least 26% of the remaining cost. Yes it’s pricey but there are financing plans available with a wide variety of options.

        And Hasso, every person using solar adds additional capacity to the nation. That’s the whole point. It’s an exploding industry. Ford with their E-Mustang and coming F150 electric are using those vehicles as additional power STORAGE for home users. Thermal electric power generation is not going away but coal will disappear. Some “mined” natural gas plants will clearly remain, and when the gas companies start generating bio-methane (as OSU has a hell of a lot of research going on) that becomes a renewal source and will be used. Offshore wind as the Governor is now pushing, is not daylight dependent, but peaks during daylight hours.

        The bottom line is that the future replaces the past. These are mostly just engineering problems. And most people don’t even know that research in fusion nuclear hit energy breakeven for the first time in 2021. It’s still decades off, but there’s no radioactive waste, and I expect that we will see installations of modular nuclear fission reactors starting to appear (another OSU success), once we bite the bullet and put in place a secure, workable, nuclear waste disposal system to clean up the prior mess.

  15. Bob Woods says:

    It will Hasso. For one simple reason:
    There’s no other available answer.

    “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else.”
    — Winston Churchill

  16. Bob Woods says:

    CORRECTION: Breakeven nuclear fusion has NOT been achieved. The report I saw a couple of months ago was withdrawn. Best to date is 67%


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