BioCycle December 2014
The Climate Trust, a Portland-based nonprofit that manages carbon offset programs for Oregon utilities, released a comprehensive performance report to the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) on the Trust’s offset initiatives for regulated energy facilities. This program grew out of an Oregon law in 1997 — the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard (“Oregon Program”) — that requires new fossil-fired energy generating facilities to meet a carbon dioxide emissions standard that is 17 percent below the best available technology. The Climate Trust is responsible for acquiring carbon offsets, and selecting and managing pollution reduction projects on behalf of utilities that fall under this law. To date, Oregon utilities have entrusted The Climate Trust with approximately $24,286,154 to purchase emission reductions from projects that avoid, sequester, or displace greenhouse gas emissions. This highly successful model has been replicated with new power plants in Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington State.
Its 2014 report, “Plowing New Pathways: Developing Quality Offsets in a Maturing Market,” submitted to EFSC states that the Oregon Program offset portfolio has funded 26 projects that are anticipated to reduce almost 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of over 400,000 homes’ electricity use for one year. Sixteen of the 26 Oregon Program projects have been developed in the state; The Climate Trust has directed $0.51 of every dollar in Oregon Program funds it has committed to these in-state projects. “Oregon’s approach to giving its new electric facilities flexibility in how to mitigate carbon emissions has stood the test of time when one considers the many international, federal, regional and state efforts on carbon that have come and gone in the last 17 years,” notes Sheldon Zakreski, director of programs for The Climate Trust.
In 2011, The Climate Trust worked with the state legislature to update the Oregon Program, enabling The Trust to fund a broader array of projects that reduce methane and nitrous oxide, much more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. This update has allowed The Climate Trust to target more high quality offset projects in Oregon leading to commitments for five biogas projects in Boardman, Junction City, Roseburg and Tillamook.
The Trust often engages with projects at the beginning of their development, which allows for direct funding of new, innovative project types that are not being pursued by the rest of the carbon market. The Trust also works with project types for which there are not yet existing methodologies, requiring technical expertise in developing their own protocols, and paving the way for the rest of the market to follow.