Invest in Salmon-Friendly Powerby Editorial Board
The Oregonian, January 4, 2000
PGE's "green-power" charge could power salmon recovery
The idea of asking utility customers to pay a little extra for their electricity to promote investment in renewable energy is nothing new. Several green volunteer power programs were launched in the Northwest last year.
What's new is Portland General Electric Co.'s plan to use half the additional revenues from its higher-cost green power sales to help restore Northwest salmon.
PGE officials say its "salmon-friendly" power will be generated by a combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric sources that environmental groups have endorsed as having a low impact on fish. The company, beginning this month, will offer blocks of 100 kilowatt-hours to customers at a surcharge rate of $5 per month per block; customers could buy one or two blocks.
PGE now pledges to invest half the proceeds in the Pacific Salmon Watershed Fund, administered by the salmon conservation organization, For the Sake of the Salmon. The PGE green power surcharge money, moreover, would be matched dollar for dollar by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and be used for watershed and salmon restoration projects in PGE's service territory.
This could be the region's best chance to fund quick action on Oregon's salmon recovery plan. But for it to bring in significant money, consumers must understand what they're paying for -- that saving salmon and promoting clean energy is worth a few more dollars on electric bills.
Even if you don't care about any of that, there's still something in it for you. Buyers of PGE's salmon-friendly power not only will get a quarterly newsletter telling them how their money is being spent, but also some discount vouchers from Fred Meyer stores, offering substantial savings on Fred Meyer products. The coupons might offset the cost of the monthly power surcharges.
So even if you don't see the value in living in a region where native fish -- as they have for millions of years -- can still swim to the sea in healthy streams, it may be in your financial self-interest to sign up for the salmon-friendly power package anyway.
It's not just what you can do for salmon, it's what salmon can do for you.
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