Portland, Oregon has accumulated an impressive record of progressive energy policy since beginning to promote energy efficiency in the mid-1970s. In 1993, the city set out to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent below 1998 levels by the year 2010, for the purpose of lowering the city's impact on global climate.30 To meet this ambitious target, the Portland Energy Office sought to use its purchasing power to bring new renewable resources on line. Eventually, the Portland city council mandated that 5 percent of its municipal electricity needs be supplied by clean, renewable wind power.31
The City of Portland's efforts demonstrate how municipal governments can purchase renewables even while continuing to obtain electric service from the incumbent utility. A five-year agreement with Portland General Electric (PGE) to buy 10 Mw of power from wind facilities was the outcome of discussions about aggregating the largest municipal accounts-primarily water pumping stations and the largest city government office building.
In a unique twist - one that nevertheless suggests a strategy for green municipal aggregation in other locales - Portland will return a portion of the savings from aggregating various government electricity accounts to ratepayers, and use the remainder to fund new renewable energy projects. After purchasing 11 million kilowatt-hours of wind-generated electricity over five years from a 10-Mw facility, Portland residents will still save $850,000. Even more gratifying to supporters of clean energy, who hope above all for the construction of new renewable energy facilities, Portland's decision prompted PGE to offer a new tariff for renewables; in response the city government opted to purchase another 8 Mw of wind power to power the city's street lights. PGE will generate this energy from a new 25-Mw project to be constructed in the future.