Oregon governor Kate Brown, with bipartisan help, has recently signed into law a groundbreaking piece of legislation.
The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act can be seen as one of the most progressive clean energy bills so far. It states that the two largest utilities in Oregon must phase out coal use by 2030. It also requires that the utilities provide that at least half of their electrical production comes from renewable sources by 2040.
Many that have supported the bill argue that it is a vital step in greenhouse reduction goals for the state. The main goal has been to reduce emissions by 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Besides coal, the other main non-renewable source of energy for the state is natural gas, coming in at 11.8 percent of total electrical consumption.
Coal currently provides about 33 percent of the state’s energy needs. Residents also rely on coal generated electricity provided by nearby states. In fact, the state’s only coal plant is scheduled to go offline by 2020. Oregon’s clean energy bill requires that any electricity used in the state is not produced by the burning of coal.
Hydroelectricity and wind provide 44 percent and 5 percent of the state’s electric needs, respectively. With hydroelectricity counted as being a renewable energy source, the state’s goal of 50 percent renewable energy has essentially been met.
A true renewable energy goal would see a much greater implementation of wind and solar power. In fact, solar is virtually non-existent. The state’s untapped solar energy potential is tremendous. Sure, it’s not the sunniest state in America, but Germany is cloudier and solar power works in that part of the world.
The bottom line is that the Oregon must eventually adopt a considerable amount of wind and solar power if it is to replace a third of it’s energy that is lost as coal use is phased out.
Hopefully other states will look to follow Oregon’s lead in taking a meaningful step towards a clean energy future.