Oregon Kicks Dirty Coal Habit
Oregon is ready to kick its filthy coal habit, and now it has passed a law to hold itself to this pledge. The Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act blocks the state’s largest power companies from purchasing coal-based electricity by 2030. By taking this important step, the state will effectively double its reliance on renewable energy in the upcoming decades. Moreover, Oregon’s energy should be approximately 80% carbon-free by the year 2040.
The legislation makes Oregon the first state to commit to ditching coal completely. As such, it is easily one of the most progressive energy policies in the United States. Hawaii’s goal to go 100% renewable by 2045 and California’s ambitious 2020 wind and solar goals deserve some credit, too, though.
Oregon’s coal plan is not only exciting because of its unprecedented nature, but because it was a genuinely collaborative effort from all sorts of people in the state. Legislators, citizens, environmental groups, Governor Kate Brown and even the state’s two largest utility companies (Portland General Election and Pacific Power) teamed together to work out new energy goals. Ultimately, only some conservative state lawmakers voiced their opposition to the bill… go figure.
The coal-free plan got an initial push when eco-conscious citizens started preparing a coal-centric ballot measure. The utility companies were afraid that the kind of change the proposition would require would be unfeasible and crippling to their businesses, so state representatives stepped in to see if they could pass a law through the legislature ahead of a ballot measure that would be mutually satisfactory to all parties.
The collaboration proved to be a success. The utility companies agreed that the future of energy is green, but requested a more realistic timetable to achieve these changes. Under the consensus plan, they should have adequate time to refocus on renewable energy.
Scott Bolton, a VP at Pacific Power, said, “Working through the legislative process with a diverse range of stakeholders, we have meaningfully advanced Oregon’s clean energy future in a way that is both workable and affordable.” Representatives from Portland General Election also had positive things to say about the legislation.
Currently, Oregon obtains coal electricity from Wyoming, Montana and Utah. In the long term, dropping this kind of energy should be not only a boon for the environment, but a cost-saver considering the cost to keep coal plants operational is rising while the price of renewable energy is simultaneously falling.
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Coal image via Shutterstock.