What is the rule?

SB 98 goes further than any other law by setting voluntary goals for adding as much as 30% renewable natural gas into the state's pipeline system by 2050. The law allows up to five percent of a utility's revenue requirement to be used to cover the incremental cost of investments in renewable natural gas infrastructure.

Natural gas utilities in Oregon can procure renewable natural gas for delivery to their customers. Similar to a renewable portfolio standard, volumetric goals have been set, as well as other parameters for the procurement: Voluntary targets of 5% by 2020, 10% by 2025, 15% by 2030, 20% by 2035 and 30% by 2050 are now in place. Utilities can invest in and own the cleaning and conditioning equipment required to bring raw biogas and landfill gas up to pipeline quality, as well as the facilities to connect to the local gas distribution system. Further, the new law supports all forms of renewable natural gas including renewable hydrogen, which is made from excess wind, solar and hydro power. Renewable hydrogen can be used for the transportation system, industrial use, or blended into the natural gas pipeline system.

"We're excited to use this landmark law, one of the first of its kind in the nation, to acquire a renewable product for our customers and bring our region one step closer to a clean energy future," said David H. Anderson, president and CEO of NW Natural. "Another important benefit is that local communities now have a potential revenue source to turn their waste into energy."

The market for renewable natural gas is fairly new but growing quickly. There are about 115 projects nationwide, and that's expected to increase by 50% over the next year. Renewable natural gas is being prioritized as a main energy source for space heating in places like SeaTac Airport, and is being used in transportation fleets like UPS and Waste Management.