SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon lawmakers have given final approval to pioneering legislation that would eliminate coal from the state's energy supply by 2030 and double state mandates on renewable power by 2040.
In a statement, Gov. Kate Brown seemed to indicate she would sign the bill.
She said it "equips Oregon with a bold and progressive path towards the energy resource mix of the future."
The bill passed Wednesday by the Senate would make Oregon the first state to adopt legislation to eliminate coal-fired power.
The bill would require the state's two largest utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, to stop supplying coal-fired energy to Oregonians by 2030.
Utilities must also serve half of their customers' energy demand with renewable sources by 2040.
Oregon Legislature Passes Historic Coal Transition Bill
Legislation will move Oregon off coal power, double state's clean energy target to 50% by 2040
PORTLAND,Ore. -- The Oregon Legislative Assembly today approved a landmark bill that will commit the state to eliminate its use of coal power by 2035 and double the amount of clean, renewable energy serving Oregonians to 50 percent by 2040. Otherwise known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan, Senate Bill 1547-B received final approval on the Senate floor today after the Oregon House approved the bill in a 38-20 bipartisan vote on Tuesday.
The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan was crafted by bringing diverse parties to the table, including Oregon's two largest electric utilities, energy industry and business groups, advocacy and community organizations. The plan received extensive public review in multiple state House and Senate hearings during January and February, as well as a special public meeting of the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
Today's vote represents the most significant state-level legislative action on climate change taken in the United States in the wake of the historic Paris agreement reached in December.
Analysis of the legislation's expected impact has shown that the plan will reduce carbon pollution across the western states by 30 million metric tons - the equivalent of taking 6.4 million cars off the road. The legislation also includes provisions to keep electricity prices affordable and ensure reliable electric service for utility customers.
The electric utilities affected by the bill, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, will work with the OPUC through their integrated resource plans to develop implementation strategies to meet the state's new renewable power and coal transition standards.
In response to today's historic vote, community leaders, electric utilities, and Oregonians from across the state praised the landmark legislation:
"Through the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill, Oregon has the opportunity to become a national leader. By transitioning away from a dirty, antiquated form of energy and embracing clean, renewable energy, this bill is a win-win for public health and the environment," said Carrie Nyssen, Regional Director, American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific
"This is a solid win for Oregon ratepayers. The risk of high-cost coal is gone and low-risk, affordable clean energy will increase. Our wallets and our values have been protected," said Bob Jenks, Executive Director of the Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon (CUB).
"This landmark climate legislation puts Oregon on a bold new course," said Kristen Sheeran, Oregon Director of Climate Solutions. "Moving away from coal and oil toward clean, renewable electricity raises the bar for clean energy in other states."
"Today, Oregon takes a big step on our path to clean electricity. We look forward to continuing the collaboration that forged the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan so the law is implemented in a way that maximizes jobs and economic benefits for Oregon, while ensuring affordable electricity for all consumers," said NW Energy Coalition policy director Wendy Gerlitz.
"Today's vote is a win-win for our climate and clean energy here in Oregon. The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan shows that we can come together to advance real climate solutions as we move away from coal and toward more clean energy," said Andy Maggi, Oregon Sierra Club Chapter Director.
"Today, Oregon had a clear choice to make: do we want to power our homes with coal or with clean energy?" says OEC Executive Director Andrea Durbin. "Kissing coal goodbye and doubling renewable energy will give Oregon some of the cleanest power in the country, delivers clean energy for all Oregon families and re-establishes our state as a leader in green."
"Coal costs us all -- it's hurting our climate, our economy, and our communities," said Doug Moore, OLCV Executive Director. "Oregonians want clean energy, not dirty coal, and this is a vote they'll remember in November."
"Maintaining the affordability and the reliability of the electric grid is very important to us," said Scott Bolton, Pacific Power vice president of external affairs. "Working through the legislative process with a diverse range of stakeholders, we have meaningfully advanced Oregon's clean energy future in a way that is both workable and affordable."
"We were pleased to be part of a collaborative process that puts Oregon's electricity sector on a path to achieve its state carbon reduction goals as we plan for Oregon's energy future," said Jim Piro, president and CEO of Portland General Electric. "This is a sensible approach that reflects our customers' values while maintaining the affordability and reliability of electric service."
"Voters asked lawmakers to kiss coal goodbye and they listened. Now it's up to the Governor to sign the bill," said Thomas Wheatley, Campaign Director for Renew Oregon, the coalition that proposed a ballot measure to accomplish the same goals as the legislation.
"The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan will set Oregon apart as a national leader on the path to a clean energy future, one that reflects our history, our experience, our citizens and our values," said Rachel Shimshak, Executive Director, Renewable Northwest.
Merkley Applauds Oregon Legislature’s Passage of Bill to End Coal Electricity, Boost Renewable Energy Standards in Oregon
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the Oregon State Senate passed landmark legislation to end the usage of coal-powered electricity in the state and to increase the percentage of the state’s electricity generated from renewable power sources to 50% by 2040. The legislation, which was previously passed by the Oregon House of Representatives, will now go to the Governor to be signed into law:
“Climate change is already wreaking havoc on our farming, our fishing and our forests, and we need to pivot rapidly from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy. I’m pleased to see Oregon once again paving the way with collaborative and innovative policies to keep us at the forefront of American leadership on this pressing issue.”
Merkley is a national leader in the fight to take on climate change. Last November, he introduced the Keep It in the Ground Act, legislation that would end all new leases for coal, oil, gas and tar sands production on federal public lands and waters. He also participated in the groundbreaking global climate talks in Paris in December, 2015. As Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives in 2007, Merkley led the successful effort to pass Oregon’s first-ever Renewable Energy Standard.
From the Senate Republican Office
Senate Democrats Pass Controversial Renewable Energy Mandate, Send Significant Utility Rate Hikes to Oregonians
Oregonians Could See Electricity Bills Spike 4% Per Year
Salem, Ore. - Today, Senate Democrats passed a costly new energy mandate that will raise electricity rates by 40% while doing little to reduce pollution from carbon emissions in Oregon. The chamber considered SB 1547-B, which was originally drafted as a benign bill to clarify the definition of "public utility" and stuffed by a House committee with the controversial "Coal to Clean" energy plan. Senate Republicans introduced two amendments to protect ratepayers, including low-income Oregon families and vulnerable fixed-income seniors, with both motions rejected by Senate Democrats. The final bill also passed the Oregon Senate in a partisan vote.
"Despite concerns from the Public Utility Commission about significant hikes in cost for ratepayers, numerous editorials questioning the backdoor deal making that resulted in this energy mandate, and repeated attempts to slow down the process to fully vet the program, Senate Democrats chose to move forward with the most costly and inefficient version of this renewable energy mandate," said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). "Senate Republicans will not support a complex and controversial new mandate that will send Oregonians' electric bills skyrocketing. Oregonians are being sold a bill of goods with claims that this new mandate will reduce carbon emissions, when in reality we will see no improvement in pollution from emissions."
Senate Republicans moved to consider two amendments to SB 1547-B, which would have:
Restored the bill to its original form, preventing the hijacking of a benign technical fix by out-of-state special interests (-B22);
Restored Senator Alan Olsen's original bill, a benign technical fix, and added hydroelectric power to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, allowing utilities to use renewable energy readily available instead of being force to invest in high-priced, ineffective, taxpayer subsidized renewable resources (-B24).
"Under this new mandate, utilities will see costs grow up to 4% per year, which will be passed on to consumers in Oregon," said Senator Alan Olsen (R-Canby). "As energy prices increase, we will see the cost of electricity, groceries, and other goods and services increase, too. We should be limiting the cost to ratepayers and adding the renewable energy we already have--hydroelectric power from our rivers--instead of passing an expensive mandate that only benefits out-of-state green energy special interests."
SB 1547-B now goes to Governor Brown's desk for her signature.
"Senate Republicans sent a letter to Governor Brown asking her to put this new mandate on hold until we have more information about how this will hurt working Oregon families," said Ferrioli. "We hope she will honor our request and stand up for ratepayers across the state who can't afford to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table."
From Renew Oregon:
Oregon Legislature Passes Historic Coal Transition Bill
Legislation will move Oregon off coal power, double state’s clean energy target to 50% by 2040
PORTLAND,Ore. – The Oregon Legislative Assembly today approved a landmark bill that will commit the state to eliminate its use of coal power by 2035 and double the amount of clean, renewable energy serving Oregonians to 50 percent by 2040. Otherwise known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan, Senate Bill 1547-B received final approval on the Senate floor today after the Oregon House approved the bill in a 38-20 bipartisan vote on Tuesday.