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Oregon Gov. Plans for Renewable Energy

Perhaps it’s the idealism of the State of the State Address season, or part of a growing trend among U.S. state governors, but more of them have recently been speaking out about implementing renewable energy in their states. Kansas’ governor recently announced a Wind Energy Task Force, and New Mexico’s Governor unveiled ambitious plans for a commercial-scale solar energy plant. Now Oregon’s Governor Ted Kulongoski expects to release official plans within a couple months to strongly pursue renewable energy development in his state.

Portland, Orgeon – January 23, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] There are some common themes in these Governor’s motivations too. Not only do they see the environmental benefits to clean energy, but they see creating their own energy as a means to achieving both energy security, new jobs, all the while decreasing the country’s need for foreign sources of energy. Proponents of renewable energy have known these benefits for years, but to see state officials increasingly supportive could prove a boon for the nascent industries. The following is the text of Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s prepared remarks Wednesday to the Northwest Food Manufacturing and Packing Exposition: “ýI also want you to understand my goals for sustainable development and renewable energy. They are many. I intend to make sustainable development part of the mission of every state agency in Oregon. And I’m working on a broad renewable energy strategy that I hope to unveil in the next few months. This will not be a strategy that comes from the top down. It will be a strategy that reflects the best thinking of front line innovators. In other words, the people in this room. I believe we must harness sustainable development and renewable energy to help Oregon companies produce and market high quality food products at a lower cost – and without damaging the environment or our tradition great of land preservation. “Inexpensive and readily available energy is essential to our economy. In 2000, Oregonians spent 7.6-billion on energy. A significant portion of Oregon’s incremental energy needs can be met with conservation and renewable resources – and often at lower cost than with conventional fossil fuels. Today, roughly 2-percent of our energy needs come from wind, solar and other renewable sources. We rank 6th nationally in wind energy capacity – and we have the ability to add much more. We need to keep expanding our energy choices – to protect our environment, grow our economy, and for large electricity users – like food processors – as a hedge against rising prices for natural gas and hydroelectric power. “I’m going to talk more about both the obstacles faced by Oregon’s food processing industry – and my agenda for sustainable development and harvesting renewable energy. But first I want to make a few more general observations about our economy and our future – starting with a simple formula that I modestly thought of calling Ted’s General Theory of Prosperity. “But a better name is simply – The Oregon Equation. “‘The formula is: O = C + E2, and it means that the way to create a healthy, livable, prosperous Oregon is to focus on children, strengthen our economy and protect our environment. Why do I bring this up at a conference for food processors and companies harvesting renewable energy? Because if you are in this room – and you are from Oregon – you have a part to play in The Oregon Equation. And even if you’re not from Oregon, the right side of the equation – children, the economy and the environment – are the building blocks of your state as much as they of mine. “The Oregon Equation is about preserving the past. Agriculture – and the processing companies that make food from our agricultural bounty – are deeply rooted in Oregon’s history, self-image, and laws. The Oregon Equation is about building the present. That means finding ways to stimulate our economy by supporting existing businesses, and by turning agricultural products into both value added food and energy. And the Oregon Equation is about securing the future. We do that by giving our children a high quality education that trains them; high quality jobs that enable them to stay here and raise families; and a high quality environment that keeps Oregon healthy, livable and sustainable. I am absolutely convinced that if we’re going to travel the road from hard times to good times, the Oregon Equation must be our map. “President Kennedy used to say that a rising tide lifts all boats. If we make the Oregon Equation our mission, every industry in this state – and even in this region – are going to find themselves making more money, being more productive and hiring more new employees. And food processors – not to mention the renewable energy industry – are no exception. You will do better with the Oregon Equation! There’s simply no question about that.” “Let me mention one other certainty. And that is, although renewable energy is not named in the Oregon Equation, it is fully a part of it. Renewable energy means clean and affordable power for our children and their children. It means preserving this region’s unique and priceless environment. And it means lower costs and higher profits for food processors and every other industry that depends on abundant and reliable electricity to manufacture what they sell. The fact is: Solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower are integral to agriculture and food processing – and have been for a long time. Geothermal energy dries onions. Solar energy pumps water to crops and livestock. And wind and other renewable sources of energy are growing sources of electricity in this region. I am committed – and so is the Department of Energy – to helping Oregon cooperatives develop their own wind energy or other renewable energy projects so that the profits from these investments stay in the communities where the energy is generated. I also want to see less energy being imported to Oregon. Right now almost all of this state’s fuel energy comes from outside the region. That is going to change! “Several bio-fuel plants are in the planning stage in Oregon – and some have broken ground. There is great potential in Oregon for developing a sustainable bio-fuels industry. This change will mean new opportunities for both growers and the businesses that process crops into bio-fuels. We need to embrace the bio-fuels industry and make it one of our new calling cards in the global marketplace. But as I said to you at the beginning of my remarks, if we focus only on our new calling cards and neglect the old ones – we’ll be making a terrible mistake. We have to pay real attention to the established businesses of the Northwest. To borrow a phrase: These industries ‘brung’ this region to the dance. We need to stick with them. That is certainly true of the food processing industry.”