ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Utilities And Greens Teamed Up In Oregon
Clean coalition: How utilities and greens teamed up to pass Oregon's 50% RPS; A unique mix of threat and opportunity turned two Northwest utilities into 'clean energy champions'
Herman K. Trabish, March 7, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: More efforts at collaboration are emerging across the country as the effort to grow New Energy gains momentum.
The story behind Oregon’s just-passed 50% renewables mandate contains lessons for states across the country. Senate Bill 1547, which also will move Oregon’s investor-owned utilities Pacific Power and Portland General Electric (PGE), completely off coal by 2035, was the result of a collaborative effort from the IOUs, the state consumer advocate, and a group of environmentalists and renewables advocates. This joint effort is an example of a recent trend in power sector policymaking in some states. Instead of battling over changes to the utility power mix in contentious regulatory proceedings, stakeholders work toward a win-win solution in outside meetings, presenting a united front to legislators and regulators alike.
The Oregon bill will set one of the most aggressive U.S. renewable portfolio standards (RPS), comparable to California and New York, which have 50% targets for 2030, Vermont, which has a 75% target by 2032, and Hawaii, which has a 100% target by 2045. Members of the SB 1547 coalition largely agree that the threat of a ballot measure to institute a new renewables mandate supported by about seven of 10 Oregonians brought the utilities to the table. The utilities were able to get modifications in the years the mandate steps up that more closely match their projected power needs and their plant depreciation schedules and were able to get important Renewable Energy Credit provisions. Many of the plants are at least 40 years old and some are already planned for shuttering… click here for more