Smart Energy Voices - Episode 8

Smart Energy Voices - Episode 8

Opportunities And Risks In Long-term PPAs with Tiffany Menhorn and Brian Faist

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Portland General Electric (PGE) created their green energy future impact tariff for large scale commercial and industrial customers to help them source 100% renewable energy. The energy will be sourced from new wind and solar facilities dedicated from a PPA through PGE. This huge initiative — with about 160 megawatts — was fully subscribed within 3 minutes of its release. It's eye-opening to hear about the opportunity and unmet demand in this space. Join today’s guests Brian Faist & Tiffany Menhorn as they talk about this project, why it was so successful, and bumps along the way.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Getting to know today’s guests Brian & Tiffany [1:49]
  • What is PGE’s green energy future impact tariff? [3:04]
  • What kind of hurdles were faced along the way? [6:31]
  • Have you had renewable power conversations in the last 5 years? [9:25]
  • Best practices when going through the solicitation process? [13:19]
  • How might COVID affect the renewables business? [16:46]

Pushing through hurdles to meet customer’s needs

PGE’s first green tariff was ambitious and is paving the way for others. Tiffany says “I think when I get to work with utilities and corporates, what is most unique to me is that the utility company is constantly stuck in this dynamic — they want to be technologically advanced and they want to move things forward — yet they're so burdened by the state and federal regulatory process.”

One of the big challenges is that not all customers look the same. Some have the ability to staff energy industry experts and work through some of these more nuanced items in renewable procurement. Other customers just want green energy. They don't have time to think about how to accomplish that, but they know they want it. The challenging part is ensuring that you have designed something that incorporates the needs of all of those people.

Haven’t had renewable power conversations within the last five years? Ask AGAIN!

One area where utilities have fallen short is in engaging customers with renewable power conversations. If you haven't done that in the past five years, do it again. PGE is not unique in the fact that they are trying to move from a more utility essential service type of organization to a customer-focused organization. They want to do what the customers want. Don’t we all? Renewable power is probably at the top of the list right now, just below reliability. So, if you haven't had a conversation about renewable power in the past couple of years with your utility provider, go do it. See what they have available.

There are many programs across the country and more that will come out in the future. Two years ago, the buzzword was “additionality.” Now it is “100% carbon-free”. It just evolves so fast in terms of what customers want that there will be endless offerings from your utility to help keep up.

How might COVID affect the renewables business?

When COVID first hit it was expected that demand would change but no one was sure of how and what that change would be. Utilities aren't expecting an increase in load demand. In fact, they are probably looking at significant load reductions as businesses have closed offices and more people are working from home.

The reality is that it hasn't slowed down renewable energy; it's still something that — despite all the issues that COVID presents — will continue. There was a pause as everyone tried to understand the impacts of COVID, but everyone now understands that it will be here for a while. Our lives will be impacted for quite some time but customers still want to advance their sustainability goals.

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