FILE - PGE Boardman Plant

This June 20, 2014, file photo shows Portland General Electric's Boardman Coal in Boardman, Ore. 

(The Center Square) — Oregon’s last coal power plant and the favorite punching bag for local environmentalist groups is officially closed for good, its lead investor announced this week.

Portland General Electric announced late Thursday that it has shuttered its Boardman coal plant in eastern Oregon’s Morrow County. The utility company plans on demolishing the site by 2022.

The 40-year-old coal plant operating southwest of Boardman was one of PGE’s largest power stations, producing 15% of its electric power nearly a decade ago. PGE held a 90% stake in the plant with Idaho Power owning the remaining 10%.

It was slated for closure by 2040 per a 2010 agreement intended to reduce air pollution from the plant, which would have cost the company around $500 million in state-mandated pollution control equipment.

Oregon will still receive coal-based electricity from a range of power plants from neighboring states for some time to come.

The company has worked to reduce the 575-megawatt plant’s hazardous mercury emissions by about 90% over the past decade to reduce haze and air pollution in the surrounding area.

The utility still gets some coal-fired power from the Coalstrip plant in Montana, where it has partial ownership.

“Our customers are counting on us to deliver a clean energy future,” PGE President and CEO Maria Pope said. “PGE’s Boardman closure is a major step on our path to meeting Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and transforming our system to reliably serve our customers with a cleaner, more sustainable energy mix.”

The Bonneville Power Administration, Washington state’s Douglas County Public Utility District, and a host of other utilities will be substituting the Boardman plant’s customers.

Boardman plant employees will largely be transferred over to other PGE projects.

More than 900,000 customers from 51 cities receive their power from PGE.

PGE is also moving forward with a number of renewable energy investments such as the Wheatridge wind farm with NextEra Energy Resources which begins construction next year.

PGE officials say the Morrow County facility will likely be online by the end of 2021 and deliver 300 megawatt of wind and 50 megawatts of solar wind and energy.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.