The company provides power to almost all of Washington County.

COURTESY OF PGE - The Boardman coal plant in Eastern Oregon, the single-largest source of carbon emissions in the state and a significant source of air pollution, is scheduled to close down in 2020. There's a raging debate over whether PGE should replace the coal power with more fossil fuels or renewable energy. Pressure is mounting on Portland General Electric to abandon or delay building two new natural gas-fired power plants to replace its Boardman coal plant in Eastern Oregon.

As state regulators prepare final comments on PGE's plan and a hearing in Portland — where opposition to the plan runs deep — there are new signs PGE is being more open to alternatives.

Last November, PGE proposed two new natural gas plants next to its new Carty gas plant to replace the nearby Boardman coal plant when it closes in 2020, and to meet customers' other long-term energy needs. The proposal, buried in a more than 800-page Integrated Resources Plan the electric utility submitted to the Oregon Public Utility Commission, scored the Carty natural gas option slightly higher than an alternative largely relying on wind power.

Environmental groups immediately criticized PGE's plans, saying it shouldn't build fossil-fuel-based power plants that customers would need to pay for over 40 years at a time when society needs to shift to renewable energy to avert massive climate change.

"PGE is asking to double-down on Carty, adding these two additional units," says Dan Serres, conservation director of Columbia Riverkeeper. "We see significant questions and risks about this frack-based power path that PGE is moving down."

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