Meet Pacificorp, a utility company that owns and operates more coal-fired power plants than anyone else in the American West and that happens to be headquartered, of all places, in Portland, Oregon.
Which is kind of odd because when I think of coal, the last thing that comes to mind is Portland, Oregon.
Nevertheless, with Pacificorp headquartered in old Stumptown, it literally makes this city the coal burning capital of the American West. It’s quite a distinction, especially for a city that’s normally known for being the greenest in the country.
For those who don’t know Pacificorp, the company owns all or portions of 11 coal-fired power plants in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Its total coal-fired electric generating capacity amounts to 6,781 megawatts, more than any other utility in the West.
Its coal-fired electricity powers a vast service area, including portions of California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. And even though the company has other sources of electricity, including hydro and wind, coal dominates the company’s portfolio. That means coal is powering Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.
That makes the company’s greenhouse gas footprint enormous. Nearly 50 million tons of carbon dioxide, to be exact (based on EPA data for 2010). That’s more than five times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in Oregon in 2007. Check out the table below.
|Plant||State||Ownership Share (%)||Total CO2 (tons)|
What’s more, the company is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Holdings, which is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet’s connection to Pacificorp’s western coal shadow isn’t much of a surprise, but it is increasingly odd given recent statements he made supporting a major ramp up in renewable energy development.
Making matters worse, Pacificorp is fighting to keep its coal plants alive, even despite growing costs. And that’s where the real rub comes into play. It’s one thing to own or operate an old coal-fired power plant. It’s another thing to fight to keep it open as long as possible, environmental impacts be damned.
See for yourself what Pacificorp’s coal shadow looks like, check out our Google map below for more information on the company’s coal-fired power plants, some of WildEarth Guardians’ efforts to confront these coal plants, and links to other helpful websites, like SourceWatch’s amazing database of coal and coal-related information. This map is also on our Pacificorp Coal-fired Power Plant map page.
In the meantime, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the key to confronting greenhouse gas emissions in the West is to tackle Pacificorp. Whether in Portland or in Denver, Wyoming or California, we can’t make meaningful progress to safeguard the climate without taking on this company’s coal.