Oregon _USED TO_
have relatively cheap power costs, but the days of cheap
hydro are long gone. The two largest power companies in Oregon -- Portland
General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power & Light (PPL), got swallowed up by
mega energy companies, took on large debt, and power rates soared.
Neither PGE nor PPL ever had access to Bonneville Power Authority (BPA --
look at it like the northwest analog of TVA) from the Army Corps of Engineer
power dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. That BPA hydro was reserved
for municipal power companies (e.g., Seattle City Poer and Light) and
public utility districts (e.g., Clark County PUD). Washington State has
always been receptive to and hospitable to muni power and publc utility
districts. Oregon, wierdly, has been intensely hostile to public power,
with one big geographic exception. Oregon, as a result has had higher
power rates, generally, than Washington state.
The hydro that PGE and PPL had access to was from dams built on private
lands owned by PGE / PPL. Both ompanies ave been rapidly de commissioning
most of their company owned hydro dams and buying on the spot maket. Both
PGE and PPL are owned by mega energy companies hat make most of thei money
by trading power wholesale rather than generating power.
PGE is a part of the Enron debacle. PGE serves most of the Portland area
and the west part of Oregon. Highest power rates in the Northwest and
maybe the highest power rates on the West Coast outside of San Francisco.
PGE and Enron both have paid massive fines for fraudulent wholesale energy
trades related to the west coast power crisis about three years ago.
PPL serves most of the rest of Oregon outside the PGE service area except
for Eugene and Lane County. PPL was taken over several years (?6-8?) by
Scottish Power, which is now trying to peddle PPL to a US based mega energy
company called (?) Mid America Power (?) controlled by billionaire Warren
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holding compan.
Wierdly, your daughter in Eugene, if within the city limits, and in some
other parts of Lane County, probably has power from EWEB (Eugene Water and
Electric Board) a municipal power company which has direct access to BPA
hydro power. If she's an EWEB customer, her rates are among the lowest in
Find out from your daughter which power company she has. Go to that
company's web site and look at the current rates, i.e. mills or cents per
kwh.. From there, with the manfacturers' specs on each potetial unit, you
can get a very rough idea of relative costs of operation.
Remember that the most important item in those costs will be unrelated to
power rates or unit effciency. Rather, how "tight" the house is, how well
insulated and protected from air infiltration and exfiltration, will be the
biggest factor in heating / cooling costs. The next biggest factor will be
where she sets the thermostat.
Gut reaction from living in Oreon more than 30 years -- heat pump and
electric resistance heat is the worst way to go. Heat pump compressor
operation is amazingly inefficient -- its just like operating an AC
compressor full time, and electric resistance heat is awful.
Go with high efficiency (90% or better) natural gas fired ducted hot air
system. If she really needs AC, (nd on the west side of the Cascades, she
usually won't), get a whole house AC unit installed in conunction with the
gas unit. There are big purchase credits and state tax credits for
installing high efficiency gas furnaces.
Wood heat is romantic idea. It is not a viable option for full time heat in
a family home. Its too damn much work. I've got two wood stoves in my
house and know how to use them. IMHO, its just more work than is
reasonable. And fire wood is NOT cheap.
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