You would be surprised. Many people have the assumption that hydropower provides most of Oregon’s power. Much of the power made at Oregon dams is sold to the highest bidder. Oregon, having privately owned power suppliers, mainly Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, controlling the majority of the market, look for the cheapest power supply on the market in order to maximize profits. The cheapest power comes from the power plants Pacific Power and PGE already own or have a major stake in owning. Believe it or not, 34% of Oregon’s power mix comes from the burning of coal! Natural gas fired plants also produce a good chunk of the power mix.
Supporting the growth of renewable energy resources is not currently in the best interest of PGE and Pacific Power, as it does not help them maximize profits for share holders. As a large corporation, maximizing profit for shareholders comes before environmental stewardship and the long term energy goals set forth by the people of Oregon.
You can make a difference by supporting renewable energy. Call your utility and ask them to support bringing more solar and wind into their purchasing mix. Above all though, tell them to support conservation programs like those run by the Energy Trust of Oregon.