RENEWABLE NATURAL GAS BILL SIGNED BY GOVERNOR KATE BROWN
NW Natural announces groundbreaking new law for this homegrown energy
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has signed Senate Bill 98 into law, creating the path for renewable natural gas to become an increasing part of the state’s energy supply.
Renewable natural gas is a zero carbon resource produced from local organic materials like food, agricultural and forestry waste, wastewater, or landfills, which can be added into the existing natural gas system.
SB 98 outlines goals for adding as much as 30% renewable natural gas into the state’s pipeline system.
“This is the first piece of legislation of its kind in the nation and we couldn’t be more pleased to lead the way,” said David H. Anderson, president and CEO of NW Natural. “This is an important step in supporting our region’s move to more renewable energy, closing the loop on waste and investing in homegrown solutions that address climate change.
How it works
The new law sets voluntary renewable natural gas goals for Oregon’s natural gas utilities. Additionally, it:
- Allows utility investment in the interconnection of renewable natural gas production
- Supports targets of 15% by 2030, 20% by 2035 and 30% by 2050
- Establishes an overall spending limit for renewable natural gas supply
- Provides local communities a potential revenue source to turn their waste into energy
“SB 98 is a groundbreaking piece of legislation,” explains Nina Kapoor, director of State Government Affairs for the national Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas. “Several states have advanced policies in recent years to support renewable natural gas, however, the Oregon law goes further than any other by setting clear goals for renewable natural gas procurement.”
The market for renewable natural gas is fairly new but growing quickly. There are about 100 projects nationwide, and that’s expected to increase by 50% over the next year. Renewable natural gas is being prioritized as a main energy source for space heating in places like SeaTac Airport, and is being used in fleets like UPS and Waste Management. UPS recently made the largest commitment yet to use it for 40% of its total ground fuel purchases by 2025.
What is Renewable natural gas?
Renewable natural gas is a zero carbon resource produced from local, organic materials like food, agricultural and forestry waste, wastewater, or landfills. As these materials decompose, they produce methane. That methane can be captured, conditioned to pipeline quality and delivered in the existing pipeline system to vehicles, and homes and businesses where it can be used in existing appliances and equipment. This closes the loop on waste and provides a renewable energy option for the natural gas system, in the same way that wind and solar are used to generate renewable electricity.
How much renewable natural gas is possible?
Last year, the Oregon Department of Energy released its first inventory of technical potential and estimated there are enough sources statewide to produce nearly 50 billion cubic feet (BCF) of renewable natural gas. That’s equivalent to the total amount of natural gas used by all Oregon residential customers today.
Does NW Natural currently have renewable natural gas on its system?
Soon. We plan to begin accepting homegrown renewable natural gas onto our pipeline system through several projects by 2020.
NW Natural is working with the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission, a partnership of the cities of Eugene and Springfield and Lane County, to bring renewable natural gas onto the system, generated from methane produced during the wastewater treatment process.
We’re also working with the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, operator of the City of Portland’s Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. Some of the renewable natural gas generated here will be used as fuel for City vehicles, while the remainder will be injected onto NW Natural’s system.
Enabling the way for hydrogen
Senate Bill 98 will support all forms of renewable natural gas including renewable hydrogen, which is made from excess wind, solar and hydro power. Renewable hydrogen can be used for the transportation system, industrial use, or blended into the natural gas pipeline system.