Oregon House Passes Renewable Energy Act

On May 23, the Oregon House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 838, the Oregon Renewable Energy Act with strong, bipartisan support (41-18). Led by Governor Ted Kulongoski, the bill received overwhelming support from cities, counties, farmers, labor, businesses, environmentalists, consumer advocates, tribes, students, investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and the Public Utility Commission.

The legislation enacts a Renewable Portfolio Standard (also known as Renewable Energy Standard) requiring Oregon’s largest utilities to obtain 25% of their electricity from clean, homegrown renewable energy sources by 2025. The bill previously passed the Oregon Senate 20-10 on April 10th.

“I think history will remember the Oregon Renewable Energy Act as a landmark piece of legislation, on par with Oregon’s Bottle Bill,” said Rachel Shimshak, Executive Director of the Renewable Northwest Project, a regional nonprofit advocacy organization promoting responsible development of wind, solar and geothermal resources in the Pacific Northwest. “The bill will expand the use of Oregon’s generous endowment of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and wave resources and help the state make the transition from fossil fuel dependence to energy independence,” she added.

The bill received widespread public support from constituents across the state during public testimony in the Senate and House. Supporters touted the bill’s potential to increase Oregon’s energy independence, create new jobs, keep more money in Oregon communities, help fight global warming, and protect ratepayers from the rising costs of fossil fuels. The bill received strong support from both rural and urban constituencies.

“It is estimated that Union county will receive $10 million over the next twenty years from just one wind project, and it’s construction and operation will bring hundreds of jobs to the area,” said Troy Gagliano, Senior Policy Associate for the Renewable Northwest Project. “I’ve never seen Oregonians from all four corners of the state come together to support a proposal like this.”

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