April 2, 2020. A new law in Oregon is expected to spur more than $30 million in investments in renewable natural gas (RNG) annually, nudging the state’s market away from fossil fuels toward biogas — a trend experts say will curtail emissions and stifle demand for fracked gas.
The effort stems from policy changes made by Oregon lawmakers last fall that upend restrictions that effectively forced utilities to buy the cheapest natural gas around — the kind sourced from fossil fuels.
Following rulemaking currently underway, utilities will be allowed to reinvest 5% of revenue in the upfront equipment costs of biogas production, chiefly cleaning equipment and new pipe to connect biogas to existing infrastructure. Natural gas utilities can recoup the cost of those investments from ratepayers. Oregon’s largest, NW Natural Gas, plans to invest $30 million annually in a bid to replace 5% of fossil gas with renewable natural gas by 2024. Its executives believe the long-term contracts they aim to ink with suppliers will lure the financing that tips the market.
Opportunities to turn trash to treasure span several sectors, chiefly targeting the state’s landfills, wastewater treatment plants, dairies, beef and poultry industry, food waste collectors, and forest and agriculture waste. Once scrubbed of impurities, biogas from these sources can flow through the same pipelines that carry fossil gas, and serve natural gas customers without limitation.