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High Efficiency Cogeneration Exemption
"Cogeneration" is the sequential production of electricity and useful thermal energy from a common fuel source.
 
Oregon law exempts high efficiency cogeneration facilities from the site certificate requirement. Under Council rules, a "high efficiency cogeneration facility" means an energy facility that sequentially produces electrical and useful thermal energy from the same fuel source. The criteria for exemption are that the facility, under normal operating conditions, have a useful thermal energy output of no less than 33 percent of the total energy output or:
  1. For an energy facility with a nominal electric generating capacity of 50 megawatts or more, a fuel chargeable to power heat rate of no greater than 5550 Btu per kilowatt-hour;
  2. For an energy facility with a nominal electric generating capacity of less than 50 megawatts, a fuel chargeable to power heat rate of no greater than 6000 Btu per kilowatt hour.
 
The Council has authority to revise the heat rate values periodically to take into account improvements in technology.
 
Facilities having electric generating capacity greater than 50 megawatts can qualify for the exemption based on eitherthe 5500 Btu per kilowatt-hour "fuel chargeable to power heat rate" or the 33% thermal energy output as a percentage of total energy.
 
The typical exempt facility is one that uses a large amount of steam or process heat, such as a paper mill. Some cogeneration facilities use the excess heat from their industrial process to make electric power. Others use waste heat from power production to make process steam. Both types of cogeneration can qualify for exemption from the site certificate requirement by meeting the criteria.
 
Incremental environmental and land use impacts from these electric plants are generally small because they are located at an existing industrial facility. They do not require large new power lines or gas pipelines. Because they produce useful thermal energy that would otherwise be produced burning another fuel, their net air emissions are usually very small compared to a conventional power plant.
 
Guidelines for Requesting an Exemption for High Efficiency Cogeneration [30 kb pdf]