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.

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The article was written by Climate Solutions staff. Our individual bios can be found here.

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