Oregon is poised to make clean energy history
October 15, 2015

This week the Renew Oregon Action Fund began a new chapter in Oregon’s clean energy transition, filing ballot measures to allow Oregon to become the first state in the nation to go coal free by public vote. The measures also double the amount of Oregon’s electricity produced from clean, renewable resources like wind and solar.

One-third of the power used by homes and businesses in Oregon still comes from burning coal. Pacific Power gets two-thirds of its power from over twenty out-of-state coal plants, located throughout the west. PGE is slated to close Oregon’s only coal-fired plant in Boardman by 2020, but it is also an owner (along with other utilities) of coal plants located in Montana and plans to continue to rely on that  coal-fired electricity for years to come.

Utilities’ reliance on coal-power stands in the way of Oregon achieving its greenhouse gas reduction goals passed by the Legislature in 2007.  It also puts PGE and Pacific Power customers at risk of paying hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades to aging out-of-state coal plants that require pollution controls.

Renew Oregon’s ballot measures protect customers from the rising cost of coal power by requiring Oregon utilities to transition away from all coal-fired power by 2030. To ensure that the replacement power is clean and healthy, the measures also increase Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard for the state’s largest utilities.

A renewable portfolio standard is a policy designed to increase the production of electricity from renewable resources. The ballot measures raise the renewable portfolio standard in Oregon from its current 25% to 50% by 2040. Coupled with Oregon’s existing hydropower capacity, Oregon’s electricity supply will be 90% clean over the next 25 years.

Many organizations, businesses, faith, and political leaders came together on Oct. 13 to celebrate the launch of this historic campaign. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Renee Klein of the American Lunch Association, and Nik Blosser of Celilo Group Media, joined Renew Oregon coalition members Climate Solutions, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Renewable Northwest, Sierra Club, and Environment Oregon in a strong show of support.  

Renew Oregon is a growing coalition of businesses, individuals, and organizations working together to address climate change and create healthy, thriving communities by advancing Oregon’s clean energy transition.

Read the full text of the two ballot measures announced this week: Initiative Petition 63 and Initiative Petition 64. Then head to Renew Oregon to get involved with our campaign!

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Author Bio

Kristen Sheeran

former Oregon Director, Climate Solutions

Kristen Sheeran served as Oregon Director of Climate Solutions. Prior to her work with us, she served as the Vice President of Knowledge Systems at Ecotrust, leading a 15 member team including economists, policy specialists, data analysts, software developers, and GIS analysts. She is also the founder and executive director of the Economics for Equity and Environment Network, a network of more than 300 economists from across the country that are organized and committed to applying their expertise to inform climate and clean energy policy and advocacy.

Kristen has a doctorate in economics, and focused her dissertation on equity and efficiency in mitigating climate change. She was a professor of economics for 7 years at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and has written and spoken extensively about climate change and clean energy.