In Oregon, the Oregon Department of Energy (Department) is responsible for regulating activities related to energy development and conservation. The Department was created pursuant to ORS § 469.030, and is the central agency for collection of data on energy resources. The mission of the Department is “to ensure Oregon has an adequate supply of reliable and affordable energy and is safe from nuclear contamination, by helping Oregonians save energy, develop clean energy resources, promote renewable energy, and clean up nuclear waste.”
Pursuant to ORS § 469.030(2), the Department has to perform certain duties. Some of them are:
1. Making efforts to educate the public about energy problems, and guiding them on the ways in which they can conserve energy resources. The educative information may be disseminated to the public through public and private sources.
2. Engaging in research, or granting funds to appropriate public or private agencies for research projects, and other services related to energy resources. However, the Department should take care to see that there is no duplication in the research activities conducted by the Department, and the investigation agencies.
3. Preparing contingent energy programs to include all forms of energy.
4. Controlling federal and state energy allocation and conservation programs, and energy research and development programs. The Department is also responsible for applying and receiving funds for energy conservation, research, and development activities.
5. Acting as a clearinghouse for energy research. The Department acts as a central hub in which all agencies send information on all energy related research. It maintains an inventory of energy research projects in Oregon and the results of the research.
6. Collecting, compiling, and analyzing energy statistics, data, and information.
The Department initiates efforts to save energy, develop clean energy resources, clean up waste, and thereby protects Oregon’s environment. It also offers loans, tax credits, and technical and other useful information to governments, business entities, educational institutions, and households. This is with an intention to encourage them to make investments in energy efficiency and conservation. The Department staffs two energy policy and regulatory boards.
The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), an independent state agency of Oregon, regulates oil, gas, and geothermal resource exploration, and surface mining in Oregon. DOGAMI’s Mineral Land Reclamation Program regulates Oregon’s mining industry and ensures that mine operators protect the environment while mining and return the land to beneficial use after mines are closed. The Oil and Gas Program of DOGAMI regulates natural gas and geothermal exploration and production.
The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (Commission) is responsible to ensure that safe and reliable utility services are provided to consumers at just and reasonable rates. The Electric & Natural Gas Division helps the Commission to:
- Set rates charged to households and business entities, and regulate the rates in such a manner that consumers get the least possible rate, and the utility provider gets an opportunity to cover the cost incurred for providing the services.
- Set and enforce price and service rules that protect consumers. Set the rates charged to homes and businesses.
- Conduct inspections, and set performance standards to ensure that pipelines, power lines, transformer stations and other energy facilities operate safely and reliably.
The Water division of the Commission mainly regulates private or investor owned water utilities. Its main responsibility is to ensure that these utilities provide adequate service at fair and reasonable rates. Additionally, the Commission investigates customer service complaints to ensure that the utility provider is complying with the service standards. The Commission also reviews cost of service charged by water companies and approves appropriate rates for different customer classes.