(Update: Adding governor’s news release)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s clean energy bill, which sets one of the most ambitious timelines in the country for moving to 100% clean electricity sources, was signed by Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday.
The legislation lays out a timetable for the state’s two major power companies — Portland General Electric and Pacific Power — to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold to Oregon consumers. Additionally, it bans the expansion or new construction of power plants that burn fossil fuels and allocates $50 million in grants for community-based energy projects, among other measures.
“With these policies, we will create jobs in a 21st Century, clean energy economy,” Brown said. “We will reduce carbon emissions. And, we will make sure the economic, environmental and health benefits of our clean energy economy reach all Oregonians, especially those who have been disproportionately impacted by climate change and pollution.”
The bill requires Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to submit plans to reduce emissions by 80% from a baseline amount by 2030, 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2040.
Dave Robertson, vice president of Public Affairs at Portland General Electric, says the timeline is an “important step toward the clean energy future.”
“It provides a clear path for this critical transition while protecting the affordability and reliability of electricity, and it establishes greenhouse gas reduction targets that are in line with the climate goals we set for ourselves late last year,” Robertson said.
At least 17 other states and the District of Columbia have already adopted similar goals, according to the Clean Energy States Alliance.
But officials say Oregon’s timeline is the strongest electricity emissions reduction timeline in the country. The deadline is nearer than nearly every other state that has adopted a clean power plan, including Washington and California.
Oregon will measure its progress in an atypical way, too.
Most states have opted to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions by requiring utilities to gradually increase the amount of power they get from renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Oregon, which has already had such a “renewable portfolio standard” since 2007, is taking a more straightforward approach: requiring Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to reduce their overall carbon emissions, which are tracked by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.
“Already, we are seeing the devastating impacts of climate change, from more frequent drought to more severe wildfire seasons that put our homes and our families in jeopardy,” said Rep. Jason Kropf, a sponsor of the bill and a Bend Democrat. “This bill will put Oregon on a pathway for a more environmentally sound future and create economic opportunity and jobs for our working families.”
Environmental activists have called the bill’s passage a huge victory, especially as the state and country continue to see the worsening effects of climate change. But the bill, which passed in Oregon’s Senate 16-12 and in the House 35-20, has also been criticized.
Opponents of the bill say the policy will increase electric prices for Oregonians, cause business energy costs to skyrocket and put strain on the power grid — possibly leading to rolling blackouts.
News release from Gov. Kate Brown’s office:
Governor Kate Brown Signs Clean Energy Bills, Sets Goal for 100% Clean Energy by 2040
Oregon now has the most aggressive timeline in the country for clean energy transition
(Portland, OR) — Governor Kate Brown signed into law a comprehensive clean energy bill package today at 11:15 a.m. at Daimler Truck North America and Portland General Electric’s Electric Island commercial vehicle charging center in Portland. House Bill 2021, the 100% Clean Energy bill, sets the most aggressive timeline in the country for moving to 100% clean electricity sources, by 2040.
House Bill 2021, House Bill 2165, House Bill 2475, and House Bill 3141 address the climate crisis head on by accelerating the clean energy transition in Oregon and centering the needs of Oregon’s most vulnerable communities.
“With these policies, we will create jobs in a 21st Century, clean energy economy, said Governor Brown. “We will reduce carbon emissions. And, we will make sure the economic, environmental, and health benefits of our clean energy economy reach all Oregonians, especially those who have been disproportionately impacted by climate change and pollution. Oregon is leading the way.
“I have continued to make climate action an urgent priority as Oregon continues to grapple with repeated climate disasters, the impacts of which are felt disproportionately by Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, communities of color, low income, and rural communities. I’m so proud that we have taken steps forward to address climate change and build a more sustainable Oregon. All the while, growing our economy and creating green jobs. I want to thank the legislative leaders, advocacy groups, community groups, utilities, renewable energy developers, and other businesses who worked tirelessly to see these bills become law.”
Collectively, these bills will reduce emissions, expand clean energy access, enhance energy efficiency programs, and create good paying clean technology jobs in Oregon. This comprehensive legislative package helps ensure that Oregon achieves its greenhouse gas reduction goals while protecting electricity customers.