Oregon governor signs RNG bill

By Erin Voegele | August 05, 2019

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown recently signed SB 98 into law. The bill sets voluntary renewable natural gas (RNG) goals for the state’s natural gas utilities, creating a path for RNG to become an increasing part of Oregon’s energy supply.

The bill was first introduce in January. The Oregon Senate passed the legislation June 13 by a vote of 25 to 3. The state House passed the bill June 19 by a vote of 48 to 10. Brown signed the bill on July 15 It becomes effective Sept. 29, 2019.

According to information released by NW Natural, a subsidiary of NW Natural Holding Co. that worked with legislators to propose SB98, the bill outlines goals for adding as much as 30 percent RNG into the state’s pipeline system. There will be limits on the total amount paid for RNG that is overseen by regulators, protecting utilities and ratepayers from excessive costs as the market develops.

The bill allows utilities to invest in the interconnection of RNG production, establishes an overall spending limit for RNG supply and provides local communities a potential revenue source to turn their waste into energy.

The text of the bill includes provisions for a large RNG program for larger natural gas utilities and a small RNG for small natural gas utilities. Large natural gas utilities that participate in the large RNG program may make qualified investments and procure RNG from third parties to meet a specified portfolio of targets for the percentage of RNG purchased by the utility for distribution to retail natural gas customers in Oregon that is RNG. The portfolio allows 5 percent RNG for calendar years 2020 through 2024, increasing to 10 percent in 2025-2029, 15 percent in 2030-2034, 20 percent in 2035-2039, 25 percent in 2040-2044, and 30 percent in 2045-2050.

Utilities that participate in the small RNG program are subject to a rate cap that will be established by the Oregon Public Utility Commission that will limit the small natural gas utilities’ costs of procuring RNG from third parties and qualified investments in RNG infrastructure.

“Oregon has long been a place for innovation in environmental protections, and this legislation continues that tradition,” Brown said. “Allowing our natural gas utilities to acquire a renewable product for their customers brings us one step closer to a clean energy future.”

“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.”

“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.”

Additional information on SB 98 is available on the Oregon State Legislature website.