The US state of Oregon has become the eighth state in the US to enact a renewable energy commitment into law.
Kate Brown, Oregon state’s governor has signed a bill mandating utilities and energy providers to provide customers with 100% clean electricity by 2040. This is the most ambitious ‘clean energy timeline’ in the US so far.
The law mandates utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold to Oregon consumers by 80% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels and by 90% by 2035 to reach 100% by 2040. Previously, Oregon had set a target to produce 50% of its total electricity from renewables by 2040.
The law forms part of efforts by the government to address climate change whilst creating jobs.
Governor Brown said in her statement: “I continued to make climate action an urgent priority as Oregon continues to grapple with repeated climate disasters, the impacts of which are felt disproportionately by Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, communities of colour, low income, and rural communities.”
As a result of the law, utilities have been asked to develop clean energy plans and reports on how they will reduce their carbon emissions and file with the state energy regulator. Clean energy plans are required to highlight how they will benefit communities and consumers.
Other directives from the law include:
- The State Department of Energy to examine opportunities to encourage the development of small-scale and community-based renewable energy projects and report findings.
- The Department of Environment Quality to determine the amount of emissions reduction necessary for each retail electricity provider to meet clean energy targets. Utilities will be manadated to publicly disclose aggregated energy supply mix and associated emissions of power sources.
- The stablishment of the Community Renewable Investment Fund within State Treasury to provide communities with grants to build renewable energy projects.
- Prohibits the approval of projects that would increase carbon emissions.
Today, hydropower provides more than 40% of the state’s electricity and has the potential to be accelerated to play a key role in the new renewables target. However, with the increase in the occurrence of droughts, and the continued decline in other renewable energy resources, options such as wind, solar, and hydrogen are also expected to play a significant role in the achievement of the target.
The signing of the Oregon renewables law builds on a national trend, which sees the state joining Hawaii, California, Washington, New Mexico, New York, Maine, and Virginia in enacting clean energy targets into law.
Emma Searson, 100% Renewable campaign director at Environment America, said: “From Washington to Virginia, people are raising their voices for power that doesn’t pollute.
“And in state after state, leaders are heeding that call. We’re excited to welcome Oregon not only to the ranks of states that have set their sights on the cleaner, healthier, renewable-powered future we need but also to the front of the pack.”à‚