The Oregon Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that will see the state’s utilities take coal-fired electricity out of the generation mix by 2030 and double their renewable energy output by 2040.
The passage of the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan, which must be signed by Governor Kate Brown before it enters into force, would make Oregon the first US state to legislate the phase-out of coal.
Under the bill, PGE and Pacific Power – Oregon’s biggest utilities – would generate all its in-state electricity from non-coal sources by the end of next decade, with the exception of a small amount from PGE’s ownership of Colstrip, which would be out of the Oregon mix by 2035.
“We were pleased to be part of a collaborative process that puts Oregon’s electricity sector on a path to achieve its state carbon reduction goals as we plan for Oregon’s energy future,” PGE CEO Jim Piro said in a statement. “This is a sensible approach that reflects our customers’ values while maintaining the affordability and reliability of electric service.”
Oregon aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Green groups celebrated the decision, saying it raises the bar for other states.
“The Oregon Legislature’s decision to phase out coal power is a huge step toward a clean energy future and puts the state at the forefront of climate leadership,” said Adrienne Alvord, Western States Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
If the federal Clean Power Plan survives all the legal challenges against it, it would mandate Oregon to cut CO2 emissions from coal plants by 20% by 2030, a target that will now be far surpassed.
The Oregon Senate Joint Ways and Means Committee is currently also considering a cap-and-trade bill for the state, but that piece of legislation is unlikely to advance with the coal and renewables bill’s passage, observers say.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org