PORTLAND — Gov. Kate Brown celebrated the signing of a bill committing electricity providers to deliver 100 percent clean power to Oregon customers by 2040 into law at a ceremony on Tuesday. The move makes Oregon the eighth state in the nation to enact a legislative commitment to 100 percent clean or renewable electricity. The Beaver State joins the ranks of Hawaii, California, Washington, New Mexico, New York, Maine and Virginia. By setting 2040 as the deadline to reach its commitment, Oregon ties New York for the fastest statewide timeline in the nation.
“It’s exciting to see Oregon once again leading the country on clean energy and climate action,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, state director with Environment Oregon. “Powering our state with clean energy, instead of dirty fossil fuels, cuts climate emissions from the electricity sector and helps keep our air and water clean, ensuring a clean and healthy future for all Oregonians.”
The policy sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold in Oregon compared to a 2010 baseline. The legislation includes requirements for 80 percent emissions reductions for power sold in-state by 2030, 90 percent by 2035 and, ultimately, 100 percent by 2040. Since emissions from Oregon power have been on the decline since 2010, the bill will, in effect, require emission-free electricity in the state by 2040. Given the state’s existing renewable portfolio standard and hydropower generation capacity, renewables are set to deliver the vast majority of the new zero emissions electricity target.
The bill’s passage follows years of organizing and advocacy for a clean and renewable future in Oregon. Since 2017, Environment Oregon has been working to build broad public support for the vision of a future powered by 100 percent clean energy. The organization has distributed educational materials about the benefits of renewable energy to more than 400,000 Oregonians; released research reports depicting Oregon’s vast renewable potential and progress to date; and engaged its members around the issue.
In recent years, OSPIRG Students, a student-led organization that mobilizes youth support on public interest issues, has also prioritized calling on Oregon college campuses, cities and the state to make commitments towards 100 percent clean and renewable energy.
“The climate crisis is the problem of our generation,” said Eliza Garcia, University of Oregon student and OSPIRG coordinator. “That’s why students collected thousands of petitions and met with dozens of our legislators to advocate for a 100 percent clean future. As the leaders of tomorrow, we are so proud of our leaders today for taking action to create the healthier world we will inherit.”
This year, a broad coalition of stakeholders and organizations, led by the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign, came together to get a 100 percent clean bill across the finish line.
The Coalition of Communities of Color explains, “This bill takes action on climate and racial justice by establishing a 100% clean energy standard, provisions to reduce energy cost burden for low- income and people of color Oregonians, equitable workforce policies, and resources for healthier, safer, more efficient homes.”
Oregon’s commitment also builds on a nationwide movement to ensure that states’ energy needs will be met with clean and renewable resources by midcentury or sooner. Environment America — the national network of which Environment Oregon is a part — began public outreach around its 100% Renewable Campaign in 2017, and its partner groups played a key role in convincing California, New Mexico, Maine, Washington and Virginia to make commitments to 100 percent clean or renewable electricity. The organization continues to advocate for similar action in a dozen additional states.
“Oregon is the eighth state to make a commitment to 100% clean power, but we will definitely not be the last,” said Meiffren-Swango. “The momentum is on our side.”
OSPIRG Students is a statewide student directed and funded organization working towards our greener, healthier, meaningful future. Chapters at University of Oregon, Southern Oregon University, and Lane Community College. Also working at Oregon State University and Portland State University.
Environment Oregon is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.