Op-Ed: Oregon Leads Way in U.S. Energy Transition

first_imgOp-Ed: Oregon Leads Way in U.S. Energy Transition FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Mike Riley and Susan Brody for the Bend (Ore.) Bulletin:Oregon leads the way in more than beer, sneakers, and computer chips. We have long been out in front on key environmental issues. We are justly proud of our public beaches and of our recycling and land use planning innovations that have been emulated across the country.Our new Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act is another example of Oregon leadership. It will reduce our spending on dirty, coal-fired electricity and increase the amount of renewable, affordable energy in our state. National and international headlines following passage of our law used words like: “ambitious,” “landmark,” “historic” and “pioneering.” It was supported by a broad coalition of utilities, consumer advocates, environmental organizations and businesses. The law passed the Legislature with bipartisan support.Yet critics, including The Bulletin’s editorial board, continue to dismiss the new law with defeatist rhetoric and gloomy speculation about how it will affect our electric bills. Let’s be clear about how this law works and why it is a winner. The new law will help transition Oregon off coal-fired electricity no later than 2035 and double the renewable portfolio standard for the state’s two largest utilities to 50 percent by 2040. It also includes important provisions to keep prices affordable and ensure reliability for residential customers.Oregon is the first state to transition off coal-fired power by law. Does that mean we’re going to “build a wall” at our border to keep coal electricity out? No. Instead, Oregon ratepayers will no longer be financially responsible for out-of-date, polluting and risky coal power plants after 2030.The law will likely lead to the shutdown of polluting coal plants in other states. It’s true that Oregon cannot directly force coal plants in other states to close. But we can add our weight to the scales that are tipping more toward clean energy every day. It’s simply wrong to say coal plants will keep running, keep polluting and keep sending electricity to other states. With Oregon, California and now Washington moving away from coal, other states in the western grid won’t use enough electricity to make up the difference. Used less, coal plants are becoming a bad investment. Bad investments get closed down — that’s good business. Oregon’s largest utilities have admitted as much, saying “the writing’s on the wall for coal.”Getting off coal has already saved ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in our state. PGE faced $500 million in upgrades to the coal-burning Boardman Power Plant to protect clean air. Instead, a plan was formed to close Boardman early, protect ratepayers, and eliminate the single largest source of climate pollution in Oregon. A win-win.According to utility modeling, our new clean energy law is expected to cut 30 million metric tons of climate pollution across the western electric grid, the equivalent of taking 6.4 million cars off the road. Those are real results for protecting the climate. When existing hydropower is combined with the new renewables being built, Oregon’s electricity will be some of the cleanest in the nation. And forget those outdated notions that clean energy is not affordable. Since 2009, the cost of wind and solar energy has fallen dramatically. Those continuing trends will save ratepayers money in the long run, especially compared to coal that is damaging our planet and communities.Utilities need to make new investments in renewable energy to meet growing demand and retire old equipment. Our new law affirms that fossil fuels are an outdated, polluting and risky energy source. That’s why there was such broad support for this new law: Renewable energy is a cleaner, safer and more affordable energy source for our future. With Oregon leading the way, more states will see the benefits of embracing this future.Clean energy law will reduce reliance on coallast_img

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