It's time to get Oregon off coal.

By Bob Jenks of Portland, Oregon.

As the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB) of Oregon’s Executive Director, it’s my privilege to have joined a coalition with clean energy advocates and Oregon’s largest utilities to negotiate a plan to get Oregon off coal. This plan, known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan (SB 1547-B), is the next generation of progressive energy policy in Oregon. UPDATE: After passing the House with a resounding 39-20 floor vote, the Senate is nearing a compromise. We expect a vote any day now!!

Sign the Petition: Get Oregon Off Coal

In a Nutshell: SB 1547-B builds upon 2007 legislation (known as the RPS) to eliminate coal fired electric generation from Oregon’s electricity mix by 2035 and increase renewable energy to 50% by 2040. Now let me tell you why this bill is good for Oregon.

Coal Is a Lousy Investment: Maintaining the coal plants currently serving Oregon will require more than $2 billion in retrofits over the next 15 years. This is a risky investment because the costs of operating aging coal plants increase with time. With the likelihood of new environmental regulations, these costs should only get worse.

SB 1547-B is Affordable: Cost analysis suggests that this transition could increase utility bills by as little as 1%. But these estimates are based on current renewable costs, and the price of wind and solar has declined for years. So if this trend continues, the plan should lower bills for customers.

Oregonians Don’t Like Coal: A recent survey commissioned by PGE found that only 5% of their residential customers want PGE to pursue coal in its future energy supply. Folks know coal is a poor investment. Additionally, a poll of likely Oregon voters conducted by FM3 Research, released on Feb 1, 2016, shows that roughly seven in 10 Oregonians support phasing out coal while increasing renewables to 50% by the dates outlined in the bill.

SB 1547-B Increases Renewable Energy: By setting a timeline for PGE and PacifiCorp to phase out coal by 2035, and increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2040, HB 4036 ensures that customers will no longer pay for coal. Rather, they will invest their hard-earned dollars in clean, renewable energy. Much like the hydroelectric system built a generation ago, new renewable resources will have zero fuel costs and can provide decades of affordable power.

SB 1547-B Protects Consumers: While CUB anticipates almost no impact on rates, in the event energy markets shift, the bill does contain a 4% cost-cap to protect customers. The plan also ensures grid reliability, least-cost planning, and competitive procurement to develop these new resources. And finally, the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan ensures that Oregon continues to invest in energy efficiency – far and away our cheapest resource.

Because of our having a seat at the table during negotiations, ratepayer interests remain at the heart of the plan. By signing the petition, you can show your support for the next generation of energy policy in Oregon. Our promise is to fight for customers by sharing endorsements for SB 1547-B with the Senate in advance of the vote – one more sign that Oregonians are ready for a clean and coal-free state!

Comments

BlueOregon Action
guest column

connect with blueoregon