WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2016 - A bill to double Oregon’s renewable energy mandate could be headed for Senate consideration as early as today, after being passed by the House earlier this year.
The “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan” would require Oregon’s two largest utilities to phase out coal completely by 2030 and require utilities to use renewable sources like solar, wind and hydropower to provide at least 50 percent of their customers’ energy demand by 2040.
Currently, the state’s energy mandate requires utilities to provide 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.
On Monday, lawmakers amended the bill to allow Oregon’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) more control over costs, in case the transition to more renewable energy results in higher energy bills. Another amendment allows for energy sources such as certain hydropower projects, biomass, and power plants that burn municipal solid waste to be counted as renewable energy. The bill passed the Oregon Senate’s Committee on Business and Transportation 3-2.
Supporters of the bill argue that it would be an important first step in getting utilities in line with Oregon’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, which call for reducing emissions by 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Hydroelectric energy already provides 44 percent of the state’s energy mix, while coal provides almost 30 percent. Portland General Electric has already committed to close Oregon’s only coal plant by 2020.
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