In communities throughout the country, mayors and regional leaders have pushed hard to facilitate a transition to renewable energies—like solar and wind. Some of their greatest impediments to this shift come from locally operating utilities. However, in a statewide effort to slash fossil fuel emissions, lawmakers and utilities have collaborated on a bold new set of policies.
Recent legislation proposed before the Oregon legislature calls for a phase out of coal-fired power by 2030. And the legislation has the support of utilities. Affecting the state’s two largest energy providers, the new policy will serve two functions: to drastically cut emissions, and to refocus investment dollars into clean, renewable energy. Details of the legislation were negotiated by officials from the utilities, multiple environmental groups, and policy makers. It marked a truly collaborative effort, and a win-win for all of those involved.
Including major players from industry, the environment, and communities and government, the negotiations let each interest feel included and pivotal to the process. Utilities were able to have a say in the timeline for transitioning to renewables and eliminating their primary source of generation. Environmental groups were able to help set new renewable energy targets. Lawmakers facilitating the process were able to implement a measured transition—ensuring that electricity rates won't increase for their residents. And finally, the plan empowers communities. Investments in renewables provide good, stable, high paying jobs. They boost local economies, increase the health of residents, and provide cleaner, greener places for families.
Oregon proves that collaboration on advancing climate solutions is the key to implementing successful action. The benefits are spread throughout multiple sectors, and ultimately communities and the environment are the greatest benefactors. To find out how to lead solutions like those taking place in Oregon, visit Path to Positive Communities.
Oregon utilities have agreed to support a bill that would phase out coal-fired power in Oregon by 2030.
The agreement follows negotiations with the backers of a proposed ballot measure that set the same target for eliminating coal from the state’s electrical supply.
The proposed legislation would only affect Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, which together serve about 70 percent of Oregon’s electricity. It also calls for doubling the amount of renewable energy the utilities generate by 2040.
Bob Jenks, director of the Oregon Citizens Utility Board, worked alongside several environmental groups to negotiate the agreement.
“I think the ballot measure clearly had an impact on the utilities thinking they wanted to avoid what would be a pretty ugly fight,” he said. “Phasing out coal and replacing it with renewables is fairly popular with the voters.”
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