Today (March 11) Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a sweeping new renewable portfolio standard into law requiring the state to source 50 percent of its electric generation from renewable energy like wind and solar and end its use of coal-fired electric generation—completely. In passing the law it’s the first state to pledge to completely eliminate its use of coal-fired power generation.
Under the new law Oregon’s largest utilities, including Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, which now supply 70 percent of Oregon's electric needs, must supply 50 percent of their electric generation from renewable energy sources including solar and wind power by 2040, according to the state Senate. Large-scale solar power already has become cost-effective in Oregon so the law shouldn’t impact the cost of electricity in the state.
The new law also establishes the state’s community solar program. The bill doesn’t set out provisions for residential solar power at this point, however.
“Oregon has declared coal persona non grata,” noted Jeff Bissonnette, executive director of the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (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.”
"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," Brown said during the signing ceremony. "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."
The new law was heralded by the national Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) as well as the local chapter, OSEIA. “A 50 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a huge win for Oregonians and solar power is going to be key in making this win a reality,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “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.”
“This bill strikes a good compromise to help the state reach meaningful clean energy goals and also provides the regulatory authority to the Public Utility Commission to protect ratepayers’ interests,” said Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene). “Including biomass in this bill is good for our rural natural resource-based economy, which now is able to participate in efforts to clean up Oregon’s energy portfolio.”Tweet