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Commentaries and editorials

Pendleton Attorney and Farmer
Reappointed to NW Power Council

by Eric Mortenson
Capital Press, April 14, 2015

A Pendleton, Ore., attorney and wheat farmer won unanimous reappointment
to a second term on the four-state Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

Balancing the demands and capacity of the Northwest's electrical power system while taking wildlife and alternative energy sources into account has become an enormously complex task, a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council says.

Henry Lorenzen, 70, a Pendleton, Ore., attorney and third-generation wheat farmer, recently won unanimous reappointment to the council from the Oregon Legislature. Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana each appoint two members to the council; Oregon's other representative is Bill Bradbury, a former secretary of state.

The council, formed in 1980, is charged with balancing the region's energy and environmental demands, with special attention to preserving the Columbia River's ability to benefit both.

The region is projected to have adequate power supply for the next several years, but Lorenzen said the Columbia River hydroelectric system is nearly "tapped out" in its ability to cover the fluctuations of alternative sources such as wind power.

A wind turbine, common in the eastern reaches of the Columbia River Gorge, may produce 4,200 megawatts of electricity one day and 100 megawatts the next, depending on the wind, Lorenzen said.

Balancing the system to handle peak demand is "enormously complicated" but makes the council position enjoyable, he said.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to deal with issues at a policy level, which I am absolutely passionate about," Lorenzen said.

It also allows him to stay home in Pendleton. Even as he was leaving for college at Oregon State University, he was promising himself that he would return to the family farm.

He had some marks to make first. He earned an electrical engineering degree at OSU, then attended Harvard University for a master's degree in business administration before picking up a law degree from Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

He clerked for legendary federal Judge James Burns, then spent six years with the U.S. Attorney's Office. He did criminal defense work for one year and civil litigation for the next five.

But the farm was calling. In 1984, he and his wife, Marcia, moved back to Pendleton and he joined a law firm in town. Among other work, Lorenzen represented multiple electrical cooperatives in the region.

He also served on the state Environmental Quality Commission as it issued the permit to destroy the nerve gas stored at the military's Umatilla depot. At Lorenzen's suggestion, the incinerator design included a carbon filter to capture any accidental emissions.

Lorenzen also served for a time on the state Board of Higher Education.

Related Pages:
Lorenzen Appointed to NPCC by Staff, NW Fishletter, 6/8/12

Eric Mortenson
Pendleton Attorney and Farmer Reappointed to NW Power Council
Capital Press, April 14, 2015

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