Oregon Gov. Signs Anti-Coal, Pro-Renewables Bill Into Law

Posted by Joseph Bebon on March 14, 2016 No Comments
Categories : Featured, Policy Watch

As expected, Gov. Kate Brown, D-Ore., has signed into law S.B.1547-B, the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan. The utility-backed legislation aims to significantly increase renewable energy procurement and eliminate coal use in Oregon.

Passed by Oregon legislators earlier this month, the bill increases the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for Pacific Power and Portland General Electric (PGE), the state’s two biggest utilities, to 50% by 2040; the previous RPS, established in 2007, required those utilities to obtain 25% of their power from renewable resources by 2025.

Furthermore, S.B.1547-B will require Pacific Power and PGE to be coal-free by 2030. (However, PGE is technically still allowed to keep its ownership in a small amount of coal-fired generation from a Montana facility until no later than 2035.)

According to PGE, the legislation also includes mechanisms to protect utility customers from excessive cost increases or reliability issues resulting from the new mandates, as well as other provisions to promote community solar installations, transportation electrification, biomass and energy efficiency.

On Friday, the governor signed the bill at James John Elementary, a North Portland school that uses solar panels to generate electricity and educate students about renewables.

“Knowing how important it is to Oregonians to act on climate change, a wide range of stakeholders came to the table around Oregonians’ investments in coal and renewable energy,” says Brown, in a press release. “Working together, they found a path to best equip our state with the energy resource mix of the future.

“Now, Oregon will be less reliant on fossil fuels and shift our focus to clean energy. I’m proud to sign a bill that moves Oregon forward, together with the shared values of current and future generations,” she adds.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has applauded the passage of Oregon’s Senate Bill 1547-B.

“A 50 percent renewable portfolio standard is a huge win for Oregonians, and solar power is going to be key in making this win a reality,” says Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs, in a press release. “Oregon is sending a strong message to the rest of the nation that it’s time to replace dirty energy with clean, reliable, affordable 21st-century solutions, like solar. This is a significant milestone toward addressing Oregon’s climate goals, and we applaud Gov. Brown and every legislative and community leader involved in setting the state on this successful path to a cleaner future.”

“Oregon has declared coal persona non grata,” adds Jeff Bissonnette, executive director of OSEIA, the state’s solar trade association. “Building on a massive base of public support, our future lies with solar and other clean energy resources.”

According to SEIA, there are currently about 150 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Oregon, employing more than 3,000 people, representing manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors and installers.

Photo courtesy of the office of Gov. Kate Brown, D-Ore.

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