Oregon Slowly Moves Toward Zero Carbon Emissions

The current population of the state of Oregon is approximately 4.24 million people. In May 2019, state utilities used renewable energy (90.5%) and natural gas (9.5%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, wind, and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in Oregon.

Inexpensive hydropower provides Oregon with below average electricity costs. In May 2019, the average cost of electricity in Oregon was U.S. 11.2 ¢ per kWh, which is the 9th lowest price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States in May 2019 was 13.3 ¢ per kWh.

Oregon is one of 30 states with a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The Oregon Renewable Energy Act of 2007 requires utilities to produce 50% of all retail electricity from renewable energy by 2040. Oregon is one of 36 states that offers low interest loans up to $20 million for renewable energy projects.

Over 80% of Oregon’s renewable energy is produced from hydropower projects built from the 1930s through the 1960s. The state has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including offshore wind, onshore wind, hydropower, solar and geothermal energy. However, Oregon utilities have taken a measured pace at replacing fossil fueled power plants with new renewable projects.

Concerns over climate change have prompted Oregon legislators to try and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In June 2019, state legislators failed to pass House Bill 2020, a “cap and trade” program designed to reduce Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions. In July 2019, Oregon Governor, Kate Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1044, a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate.

Oregon’s ZEV law requires that all light-duty vehicles owned or leased by the State of Oregon be ZEVs by 2029. The law also establishes targets for electric vehicle (EV) adoption of 50,000 vehicles by 2020 and 250,000 by 2025. Replacing 50,000 internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) with EVs will eliminate approximately 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year in Oregon.

Over 90% of the greenhouse gases in the United States are generated from the transportation (28.9%), electricity generation (27.5%), industry (22.2%) and commercial & residential (11.6%) sectors. In my opinion, Oregon Senate Bill 1044 is sound legislation because Oregon over 90% of electrical power is from clean, green renewable energy.

Oregon’s development of the state’s vast renewable energy resources has been excruciatingly slow compared to most of the Great Plains states. In my opinion, Oregon must pick up the pace in the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

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