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Bill Brock presented to Bill Garrard's "House Interim Committee on Land Use" May 14, 2004, a speech followed by Power Distribution Problems in the Northwest, and A PROPOSAL FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE OREGON STATE LEGISLATURE

My name is Bill Brock. My wife and I live and farm in Langell Valley. I am presently employed by the largest power marketer in the northwest, as a Power System Control Specialist.

I would like to thank the House Interim Committee on Land Use Review and representative Garrard for providing this opportunity to speak to you about our local land use concerns.

Langell Valley is a relatively isolated farming community, made up primarily of field crop farms and livestock ranches. I recognized the beauty of this valley 30 years ago as a student at Oregon Institute of Technology. I saw the value of family farms and the safety that a close knit community provides. I moved away, as many young people do, to make my fortune in the big city, always dreaming of a time when I could return and own a piece of land in this basin. That career in the city was a way to return to the Klamath Basin and fulfill those earlier dreams. I was fortunate enough to return in 1997 and purchase that dream farm. I thought that I could remain here as long as I wanted and not have to worry about those annoyances that plague city life. The land was zoned Exclusive Farm Use, you could not build a house on less than 80 acres. You were free to do the things that farmers do and not worry about the neighbors complaining about the dust or the smell. No one was going to build a gas refinery or other large industrial facility next door. I believed these were guaranteed by land use rulings and legislative statute.

It would seem that the joke is on me.

For the past 2 years I have spent many hours trying to find out how the state of Oregon could interpret land use statutes in a way that contradicts the intent of the law. I have found that the original intent of Senate bill 100 was to place a protective barrier around Oregon farm land. From the day that Senate Bill 100 was signed in 1973, there has been a collective attack, by legislative statute revision, on the intent of that bill. Today we face what may just be the death of actual state land use protections. Those were the protections that I was convinced would protect me from political and corporate corruption. It would seem that whatever you want to do on Exclusive Farm Use land in Oregon, you could if you delved deep enough into the statutes. Statutes exist that contradict another, interpretations that defy common sense, and wording so cryptic that even lawyers can not agree on its meaning. It would appear that anyone with enough money and lobbyists could get a wanted statute revised or amended and the general public would be none the wiser.

Now into Langell Valley comes what is know as a foreign power company, Peoples Energy of Chicago, (in the power business any company that does not provide services in an area is know as a foreign power company), this company wants to build one of the nations largest gas-fired generating facilities right here in our valley, a truly heavy industrial use on land zoned for Exclusive Farm Use. The purpose for siting this behemoth in Langell Valley is that the intended recipient of the power produced is in California. California has stringent environmental and operational requirements and Oregon does not. It would cost quite a lot more to build this plant closer to where it may be needed. Never mind the proponents supposed resource requirement that the facility be placed here, there are at least 10 locations closer to the intended load which provide all the needed resources and all are zoned for this type of facility.

What appears like support for this facility by political leaders on the left side of the state for a few dollars in state cash flow, looks to us like complete disregard for rural constituents and their chosen life style on the right side of the state. Will it be worth writing off a few hundred rural residents when election time rolls around?

Will the loss of confidence in government be worth the short term gain in dollars?

May 14, 2004

As you know, this county has a huge problem with decisions made solely by government bureaucrats. Will the decision to pick, choose and interpret only those statutes that support the exceptions needed to site this monster in Langell Valley be another wedge between effective government and those people that chose to live and work in Langell Valley and the Klamath Basin?

As the nation charged headlong into electricity deregulation in the 1990s, Oregon secretly modified its Energy Facility Siting Authority to a market based model via legislative revision of statutes. Only those closely associated with the legislature knew that Oregon was being pressured to let the market determine the future energy decisions in the state. As we know now, deregulation of the electricity market is only a pipe dream. Witness the fiasco in California during 2001 and 2002. As a matter of fact, nothing is actually deregulated, only re-regulated so that those in the industry can syphon a few more dollars out of the market.

I say this as one who is closely associated with the energy market and its participants on a daily basis.

So how did Oregon force deregulation? By rewriting ORS 469 and other applicable energy statutes. Oregon has essentially thrown away its ability to decide whether or not the building of an energy facility is in the best interest of the state and its citizens.

By rewriting the statutes that regulate the Energy Facility Siting Authority, the legislature has compromised the statewide land use planning goals adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). Oregon’s own published energy policy contradicts the law as it exists today.

Between 1995 and 1997 the legislature altered the nature and composition of the standards governing Energy Facility Siting Council determinations, giving the council the ability to circumvent state land use goals and zoning requirements by including provisions that make those land use decisions by using only Energy Facility Siting Council standards.

I urge you to return to the legislature and force a moratorium on the issuance of energy facility site certificates until state land use policy, state energy policy and the voiced desires of the citizens of the state of Oregon are truly in agreement.

I can and will provide detailed and specific citations of state statutes that I believe are contrary to state policy and legislative intent if asked to do so.

That concludes my oral testimony, I will summit this testimony in writing along with a proposal for legislation to address our concerns and a discussion about why the siting of facilities such as this threatens the stability and reliability of the northwest power system.

Thank you for your time. I will answer any questions you may have.

Bill Brock

31100 Horsefly Lane

Bonanza, Oregon 97623

Power Distribution Problems in the Northwest

The following discussion will show why siting large energy facilities far from their intended load will cause instability to and reduced reliability with the northwest power distribution system.

The northwest electricity distribution system has grown from one of individual power lines moving power from dams on the Columbia River to the major metropolitan areas into a network of overloaded lines and misunderstood protection mechanisms that now threaten the distribution of that precious power. The unsupported notion that the market should determine where power generation is located is disputed by not only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but also Oregon’s own published energy policy.

Background for making informed decisions concerning the real reasons that the nation has experienced huge power outages has, in the past, been hidden by the technical explanation that seem only an attempt to place the cause on nothing in particular and everything in general. There appears to be a problem with accountability with those that provide power and the power distribution systems throughout this nation. Every few years, starting in the early 1960s, the power industry has attempted to address the cause of major power outages with increased system protection. System protection is a technical term for the hardware that monitors the power system and makes decisions about what to do when a problem occurs. Each time a major power outage occurs, system protection is called upon to minimize the problem. It has been a failure. Regulation and hardware can not repair a basic flaw in the system. That flaw is the concept that a large connected primary network of power sources and loads can be managed for minimum disruption.

Take the lowly spider and its primary method of food collection, the web. The spider’s web is constructed to telegraph the capture of any unsuspecting insect that may become ensnared, directly to the spider that is lurking in a secret place just off the grid. In an odd sort of way the nation’s power grid is just like the spider’s web. Any problem in the grid, however small, is telegraphed throughout the grid. The premise has been that as soon as we capture a disturbance we take action to minimize its affect to our portion of the grid. It just doesn’t work that way. There have been seven major power outages in the past 40 years and each time industry has assured us that it will never happen again. Today the power industry relies on a procedure known as islanding. This procedure is designed to isolate the problem area and let the rest of the system operate normally. As they say, " herein lies the problem". Today the northwest is connected, as is all the nation, by a very long and overloaded power distribution system. Power distribution is overloaded because we continue to maintain the idea that industry will do what is necessary to provide its primary product: electricity. This idea is patently incorrect. Industry has only its investors to satisfy and will go to great lengths to increase its "bottom line". The answer is not in more distribution, that is more power lines, the answer is in placing power generation close to the load centers and using the distribution system as an alternate source and not a primary source of power. This concept is not new and is promoted and published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is our own Oregon power policy.


Power Distribution Problems continued.

What follows is a semi-technical discussion of what happens during a typical major power outage. Take for example the August 10, 1996 power disturbance that caused the lights to go out over much of southern California and parts of Arizona. The cause of this disturbance was an overloaded power line that sagged into a tree in northwest Oregon. This somewhat small disturbance caused the separation of the major northwest southwest connection. The result of this separation caused a domino effect of erratic voltage swings and protection equipment operations, all of which only made the problem much worse.

This is what happened August 10, 1996:

A power line carrying an excessive amount of power quite a long distance shorted to ground when the heat generated by that current caused the line to sag and arc to a nearby tree . Protection equipment sensed this massive current to ground and removed the short from the system. The system was balanced prior to this occurrence, but now the line was open. The excess generation remaining caused the system voltage to rise dramatically. Other protection equipment rushed in to reduce the generation. The voltage then went too low. Generation was commanded to increase. We had a series of events that will ultimately cause power system to separate all the way to Texas. Here we return to the spiders web analogy. The system is strung so tight and generation is so far away from load that even a minor disturbance causes enormous consequences. The lights go out for millions of people. This is not an isolated incident. Seven major power outages in the last 40 years were caused by very similar events. Does it look like we have learned from our experiences? I think not.

No amount of regulation or protection equipment will remove the continued threat of future power outage as long as we operate the system as it is now configured. The solution is quite obvious and has been articulated each time an outage has occurred. Place any future generation close to the load centers, and use the existing high voltage distribution network as a backup for localized outages.

The primary reason for the preceding discussion is an attempt to dissuade placement of a very large gas-fired power generating facility in the middle of a 300 mile long and currently overloaded power line. People Energy of Chicago has proposed a behemoth of a power plant be built in a pristine farming community on the Oregon-California border. A recently constructed power generating facility in the Klamath basin has already caused the power rate payers of the northwest to incur increased cost by requiring the Bonneville Power Administration to spend multiple millions of dollars for voltage control equipment at the Captain Jack Substation in an attempt to offset introduction of generation in the middle of this long transmission line. Another generator in the Klamath Basin will only exacerbate an existing problem.

The solution is clear. Power generation needs to be built close to the load centers. Future innovation in power generation is now removing the need for large centrally located generation. Fuel cell technology, wind generation and micro turbines are fast becoming the answer to tomorrow’s power needs. We must follow the lead of federal and state policy makers by addressing tomorrow’s needs with generation near the load and innovative new localized generation technology.


To provide legislative direction for the siting of gas-fired electric
power generation facilities (1)

The Oregon Office of Energy and the Oregon Energy Facility Siting
Council has inefficient ability to provide for public concern with
respect to location and size of proposed fossil fueled electric
generation facilities. The fossil fueled electric generation facilities
built today produce less pollution than those built in the past but they
do produce significant amounts of airborne pollutants and use tremendous
quantities of Natural Gas. The operation of these facilities diminish
the quality of life in Oregon. With this in mind it is imperative that
Oregon provide direction for the location and production ability (size)
of these gas-fired electric generation facilities.

Whereas the citizens of Oregon enjoy a unique quality of life as a
result of years of environmental stewardship, it becomes necessary to
provide legislative direction to preserve that quality of life and

Whereas the use of fossil fuels must be done in a most conservative
manner to insure the continued comfort and prosperity of the citizens of
Oregon and

Whereas the ability of Oregon residents to afford natural gas is
jeopardized by continued construction of gas-fired electric generation
facilities and

Whereas the ability of Oregon residents to afford reasonable electric
power rates from hydroelectric and wind power, which are location
dependent, is jeopardized by gas-fired electric generation facilities
that cause congestion on electric transmission systems by trying to
provide power to distant loads.

Be it then proposed that the building of gas-fired electric power
generation facilities be the result of an actual electric load
deficiency (2). That no gas-fired electric generation facilities be
built farther than 20 statute miles from the intended load (3). That
gas-fired electric generation facilities are of sufficient size to
provide for the intended load and a reserve of 60 percent of that load.
That gas-fired electric generation facilities be equipped with the very
latest environmental controls available. That all gas-fired electric
generation facilities built in the state of Oregon be constructed for
the primary purpose of providing electric power to the residents and
businesses of Oregon.

(1). For the purposes of this proposal “gas-fired electric power
generation facilities” means facilities fueled with natural gas and
larger than 100 megawatts in size and built for the commercial sale of
power to the public directly or by wholesale distributors.

(2). For the purpose of this proposal “actual electric load deficiency”
means inadequate supply of electric power to a location because of
congestion (loading) on transmission lines due to the distance from
existing generation.

(3). For the purpose of this proposal “intended load” includes the
actual electric load deficiency plus the projected load growth over the
life of the facility.



Supporting documentation: October 2, 2003


Present Oregon energy facility siting law is based on market driven
conditions. It has been the Legislature's position that only those
energy facilities that are economically viable will be constructed, thus
industry will determine the need. This position is short sighted in that
it does not consider the position of surrounding states. Oregon,
Washington, and Nevada have a surplus of electric power. Idaho and
California must import a significant portion of their electric power.
Oregon and Washington have sufficient transmission capacity to carry the
existing surpluses to neighboring states. The problem that exists is
that projected 30-year load growth in Oregon and Washington will reduce
their surpluses enough that Idaho and California will need to supplement
their power needs from other sources. This will be especially difficult
in California because of that state's existing environmental regulations
and thus the electric generating industry's reluctance to built there.
The cost of building electric power generation in California is quite
high, but not so much that companies cannot make profits with these
higher priced facilities. Oregon, Washington, and Arizona have much less
stringent environmental regulations. It becomes quite obvious why
commercial companies want to build electric generation in Oregon,
Washington and Arizona; less cost and more profit.
But what does this do to the electric power infrastructure in Oregon?
Congestion: the loading of transmission lines is what caused the recent
east coast electric power failure. Congestion is what caused a power
outage near Hillsboro, Oregon to darken most of the southwest in August,
1966. Presently the north to south transmission capability in Oregon is
at capacity, and that means congestion. We are shipping power generated
on the Columbia River to California via Oregon. Montana is shipping
power to California via Oregon. Wyoming is shipping power to California
via Oregon. We are at the point today where a small power failure in an
urban area of Oregon could be disastrous because all alternate supply
paths are fully loaded. The lights would go out. We are told that we
need more Federal regulations. We are told that we need more
transmission capacity. We have what we need and it works well; it is
other states that need to address their needs by siting electric power
generation closer to their loads.
If and when Oregon needs to add electric generation is should look at
methods more environmentally sensitive than gas-fired turbines. Natural
gas-fired turbines and combined cycle gas-fired turbines, (‘combined
cycle’ adds a heat recovery steam generator) are quick and dirty
generation. Tremendous amounts of natural gas are burned, producing vast
amounts of pollutants. Gas-fired turbines are relatively cheap to build
but are very high maintenance items. Noxious gases in the form of sulfur
dioxides and nitrous oxides spew from the exhaust stacks. Heavy metals,
volatile organic compounds, sulfuric acid (acid rain) and base ammonia
are spread for miles around these gas-fired facilities. Oregon is known
for its environmental stewardship and has the time and ability to find
future electric generation methods that do not contaminate Oregon. Today
wind and solar are prospective energy providers, but much more research
and data is needed to make them viable and cost effective. While we have
the time, let us invest in tomorrow and not in yesterday’s dinosaur
burning technology.


Oregon has led the nation in environmental awareness. It is this
awareness that has provided a unique quality of life for Oregonians. We
are proud of our stewardship of the air and water. We strive to balance
the needs of business and commerce with those of an out-of-doors
lifestyle that we all enjoy. At times it becomes necessary to make laws
that protect our quality of life; this is one of those times. In the
early 1970’s Oregonians saw the destruction of farm land as a threat and
via Senate bills 100 and 101 designated a new class of land use zoning:
Exclusive Farm Use. EFU, as it is known, set strict requirements on the
conversion of real farmland to residential and industrial use. Farmers
rely on the state to protect them from the destruction of their
lifestyle and property values by residential and industrial conversion.
We have come to a point where a tight economy and slick lawyers are
attacking the very heart of EFU. Dubious interpretations and subsequent
changes over the years have changed the original intent of SB 100/101 to
a land classification that can be changed to whatever you want if you
have enough money. This is one reason why the Oregon Legislature needs
to address this energy facility siting question today. We need concise
requirements for energy facility siting that will protect Oregonians'
quality of life and a treasured environment.

Natural gas-fired turbines and combined cycle gas-fired turbines used to
generate electricity use disproportionately large amounts of natural gas
to produce that electricity. A typical 280 Megawatt facility will
require 19,136,302 MMBtu of energy from natural gas each year to produce
its rated output. That is enough energy to heat 290,000 Oregon
households. 280 Megawatts is enough electricity to power 230,000
households. Approximately 60,000 more Oregon households will benefit
from the use of this natural gas when it is used to heat and to cook and
to make hot water.

Natural gas prices have skyrocketed in the past year. Some utilities
posting a 250% increase in wholesale prices. Avista, an Oregon Natural
Gas provider has recently asked for and received another increase of
over 35% in charges to gas customers.
September 30, 2003 a national congressional task force released a report
that paints a sobering picture of economic tough times ahead if “the
growing imbalance between supply and demand for natural gas” is not
corrected. The report continues, “The United States is on a trajectory
towards an energy future which threatens Americans' livelihood and
quality of life, and puts at peril our national manufacturing and
industrial base.” It seems that some congressional leaders are aware of
the reckless use of natural gas for electric generation when more
appropriate alternatives are available. The task force says, “Without
radical correction the present course will have far-reaching impacts on
our economy (including) … a massive outflow of energy-dependent
industries and the jobs they support.”
During the week of September 22 a report issued by the National
Petroleum Council said that natural gas prices could range from $5 to $7
a thousand cubic feet for years to come …for the short term the only
answer is for people to use less of the fuel.
Will Oregon natural gas customers be able to heat their homes? Will the
ever-growing nursery industry in Oregon be able to purchase fertilizer
of which natural gas is a primary component? How will Oregon return to a
prosperous economy as ever increasing prices chase out the employers?

As a state, we need to send the message to prospective builders of
gas-fired electric generating facilities that your facility must be of
the correct size and be needed in Oregon before you get to build it here.

Oregonians enjoy electric rates that presently reflect the source of our
power: Hydroelectric. Oregonians pay electric rates that are near the
middle of the span across the nation. Not the lowest and, not the
highest. Hydroelectric and the upcoming wind generation are location
dependent, which means they need water and wind. Hydro and wind are
environmentally the cleanest and most economical source of power today.
River canyons and windy ridges are usually not close to population
centers; therefore the power generated at these sites sometimes needs
long transmission lines. Those transmission lines are the same ones that
California is using to pass power through Oregon. Congestion results
when competing power loads a transmission line. The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission is trying to get you and I to pay to upgrade our
power lines to let California get its power across our state.

At times the moneychanger’s throw up their arms and scream “ energy
shortage energy shortage”, we fell for that once already. Remember the
Washington Public Power Supply fiasco? Five failed Nuclear power plants,
(and that’s not counting the infamous Trojan plant at St. Helens) and
the continuing cost to ratepayers today. A full third (1/3, 33%) of the
wholesale power rate on your electric bill is still going to pay for
that fake energy shortage. WPPS, or Whoops as it is known, should be
constant reminder to be skeptical when someone hollers “energy
shortage”. So now we come to the reason for all the rush to build these
gas-fired electric generating facilities. California has a problem, but
it’s not a lack of electricity. The knee jerk reaction to this contrived
electricity shortage in California has been “ we have got to build more
generation”. Hogwash. The problem in California was not the generation,
although too many generators were taken off-line for routine maintenance
during the 2001-2002 crisis. The problem in California is that the
generators are too far away from the load. California has some of the
most stringent environmental regulations and these combined with the
latest technology could easily have the generation located where it is
needed. But it is cheaper to build it in Oregon and transport it
hundreds of miles to the load in California. That is where the problem
for Oregon lies. By loading transmission lines in Oregon, we jeopardize
the distribution and cost of our own power.

Oregonians need help from the legislature to keep out-of-state interests
from adversely affecting our ability to control our destiny. With a
jumble of regulations that are prone to different interpretation,
Oregonians need definitive and concise regulation that will address the
question of when and where to site gas fired energy facilities.






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