Energy Analysis – Pacific Contiguous Region (California, Oregon & Washington)

In the United States, the Pacific Contiguous Region includes the states of California, Oregon and Washington. The first table compares the population, gross domestic product (GDP), fuel types for residential electrical power and electricity costs for California, Oregon and Washington.

ENERGY ANALYSIS – CALIFORNIA, OREGON & WASHINGTON

The second table shows the average residential electricity prices in 2016 for each state. The graph highlights California’s high electricity cost compared to most of the other states in America.

2016 Average Electricity Prices by US State

The following is an energy analysis of California:

  • 3rd largest onshore oil producer, after Texas and North Dakota.
  • 3rd largest in oil refining capacity at +/- 2,000,000 barrels per day.
  • 2nd in total carbon emissions (364 million metric tons CO2), after Texas.
  • 49th in per capita energy consumption (197 million Btu).
  • 2nd in electricity generated from renewable energy (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass).

California began to move to renewable energy with the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. California has aggressively pursued a diverse range of renewable energy projects including hydroelectric, nuclear, geothermal, wind farms, solar parks, and biomass. The cost for electricity from nuclear energy and solar thermal projects has been significantly higher than initially forecast. California’s renewable energy policies, regulated utility industry and procurement policies all contribute to the high cost of electricity, compared to Oregon and Washington.

The following is an energy analysis of Oregon:

  • Mist Underground Storage Facility can hold 635 million standard cubic feet of natural gas.
  • 39th in per capital energy consumption (238 million Btu).
  • 3rd in electricity generated from renewable energy (hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar).
  • 38th in total carbon emissions (38 million metric tons CO2).
  • 3rd in undeveloped geothermal energy, after Nevada and California.
  • Strongest and most consistent winds in the United States occur off the coast of Oregon.

Oregon’s development of renewable energy began in the 1930s with the construction of hydroelectric projects funded by the federal government, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 2016, Oregon has 1,100 major dams which provide 59% of the state’s electricity. Over the past decade, Oregon has begun to develop the state’s onshore wind energy. In 2016, Oregon produced 3,200 MW from onshore wind turbines. The state has done little to develop the state’s significant offshore wind resources and onshore geothermal potential. Oregon has sufficient renewable energy to stop the use of all fossil fuels for electrical power generation.

The following is an energy analysis of Washington:

  • Jackson Prairie Underground Storage Facility can hold 25 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas.
  • 5th largest in oil refining capacity at +/- 671,700 barrels per day.
  • 33rd in per capital energy consumption (278 million Btu).
  • 1st in electricity generated from renewable energy (hydro, wind, biomass, and solar).
  • 25th in total carbon emissions (78 million metric tons CO2).
  • Washington exports surplus electrical power to thirteen western states and Canada.

Washington’s development of renewable energy began in the 1930s with the construction of hydroelectric projects funded by the federal government, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River is the largest hydroelectric power producer in the United States with a capacity of 6,809 GW. In 2016, hydroelectric power provides 65.6% of Washington’s electricity. Over the past decade, Washington has begun to develop the state’s onshore wind energy. In 2016, Washington produced 3,075 MW from onshore wind turbines. The state has done little to develop the state’s significant offshore wind resources. Washington is pursuing additional hydroelectric projects which could allow the state to stop the use of all fossil fuels for electrical power generation.

In summary, California’s aggressive development of nuclear and new renewable energy technology, regulated utility industry and procurement policies have contributed to the high cost of electricity. Oregon and Washington have benefitted from major hydroelectric projects built in the 1930s. However, neither state has aggressively developed their states significant renewable energy resources.

In my opinion, Oregon and Washington both have sufficient renewable energy resources to stop the use of all fossil fuels and nuclear energy for electric power generation. Each state could even develop sufficient renewable energy resources to provide power to neighboring states and Canada.

 

 

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