Thursday, community leaders, Portland General Electric (PGE) retirees and employees gathered at the decommissioned Boardman coal plant to watch as demolition experts knocked down the stack and boiler at the closed generation facility. Viewers, gathered at a safe distance, celebrated this milestone in Oregon’s energy journey, honoring the plant’s 40-year history and marking the end of an era.
Careful placement of explosives, planned and handled by engineers and explosive specialists, allowed the 656-foot-tall smokestack and boiler to complete a controlled fall. Explosives triggered within seconds of each other caused the stack and boiler to come down over a matter of seconds, releasing a shower of dust and residual ash that quickly dissipated.
“From 1980 to 2020, the plant provided reliable energy to Oregon, and served as the workhorse of our generation portfolio,” said Brad Jenkins, PGE’s Vice President of Utility Operations. “While the demolition of Boardman, Oregon’s last coal plant, represents another key step in PGE’s clean energy journey, this milestone would not have been achieved without the effort put into this facility by so many.”
The decision to close Boardman 20 years ahead of schedule was a ground-breaking clean energy commitment made more than ten years prior to the closure through an agreement with stakeholders, customer groups and regulators. During the transition period, PGE worked closely with the local community and plant employees to support them through the process, providing benefits that included a comprehensive retention and severance package, education and job training, and help with placement at other PGE facilities or in new careers.
Since 2010, PGE has implemented solid resource plans to help ensure a reliable supply of power for customers. These plans focus on renewables and other non-emitting, clean energy resources, including Wheatridge – a first-of-its-scale wind, solar and battery storage plant less than 30 miles down the road.
“Morrow County is honored to be the seat of both the past and future of energy generation in Oregon,” said Don Russell, Morrow County Commissioner.
The demolition was one step of many in a thorough environmental cleanup process currently taking place at the plant. PGE expects demolition and decommissioning to be fully complete by the spring of 2023.