A flurry of activity at the tail-end of the Oregon legislative session pushed through a new law that is significantly upping the ante on renewable energy production in the state.
On Wednesday, March 2, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1547, which would eliminate coal-fired power production in the state by 2030 and require 50 percent renewable energy production by 2040.
If signed by Gov. Kate Brown, the legislation, which passed by a 17-12 Senate vote, would increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for the three largest power suppliers in the state. Under the terms of the law, the standards for smaller, consumer-owned utilities would not change.
“This bill helps to move Oregon away from fossil fuel energy production and toward a healthier future with clean energy," Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) said in a statement released by the Senate Majority Office. "This strikes a good balance between phasing in clean energy sources for all of Oregon’s electricity supply while taking into account the needs of utilities and rate-payers."
The law would also change the criteria for the generation of renewable energy certificates, ensuring that the decommissioning of facility costs are recovered and incentivizing electric vehicle infrastructure throughout the state.
“This bill strikes a good compromise to help the state reach meaningful clean energy goals and also provides the regulatory authority to the Public Utility Commission to protect ratepayers’ interests,” Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene) said in the same statement. “Including biomass in this bill is good for our rural natural resource-based economy, which now is able to participate in efforts to clean up Oregon’s energy portfolio.”
Under the law, the Public Utility Commission would be given regulatory authority and cap the annual utility rate increase at 4 percent. The commission would be required to report to the Legislature.
Brown is expected to sign the legislation into law.