Renewables are putting Lexington, Oregon, on the map. It’s the closest town in Morrow County to North America’s first renewables facility featuring wind, solar, and battery storage. On Wednesday, the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility was commissioned through a joint effort between NextEra and Portland General Electric. Initially a wind farm that launched in 2020, the facility includes 50-megawatt of solar and 30 megawatts of battery storage, which came online earlier this year.
The “hybrid” renewables facility is expected to generate enough electricity to power around 100,000 homes. That breaks down to 350 megawatts of generation and 30 megawatts of battery storage. It’s a step in the right direction for a state that enacted an ambitious climate pledge mandating its utilities to reach net-zero by 2040. Oregon needs significantly more renewables to come online to reach its goal. Data from 2020 shows the state using 53.7 million megawatt-hours.
The Associated Press notes that the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility’s maximum output exceeds more than half of the power generation provided by Oregon’s last coal plant in operation, the Boardman coal plant, which was also located in Morrow County. The Boardman at its peak was generating around 550 megawatts of coal-fired power with carbon dioxide emissions alone annually exceeding 2 million tons. It ceased operations in 2020 and is currently being decommissioned. A full demolition is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Shockingly, it was originally scheduled to stay in operation until 2040.
The most recent data from Oregon’s Department of Energy website shows hydropower as the top generator of electricity in the state, making up 38.91% of total power generation. Solar and wind made up less than 10% of total power generation. In order to meet its goals, the state of Oregon—and any state committed to fighting the climate crisis—can certainly take a page from Wheatridge and look toward a renewables energy mix that is reliable and more importantly, emission-free.