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Beyond Coal Oregon

New Reports Highlight Risks and Opportunities for Pacificorp

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Support Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 2729

The Coal to Clean Energy transition bill will move Oregon’s investor-owned electric utilities Pacific Power and PGE off coal to clean, renewable energy sources by 2025 and preference local clean energy that creates jobs in and around Oregon for the replacement power. The Oregon Public Utility Commission will work with the utilities as they carry out the plan. The bill will:

  1. Set 2025 as the date to transition away from all coal use in Oregon’s electricity mix
  2. Ensure the replacement power for coal is 90% cleaner, allowing for a replacement mix that is primarily clean, renewable energy like solar and wind
  3. Encourage local clean energy to promote job growth in the region rather than elsewhere whenever possible

Oregon’s transition to clean, 21st century energy is happening now and the bill will help to further this
progress. It’s a switch that is creating jobs across the state and protecting families from air pollution and extreme weather linked to climate change. It’s what Oregonians want and our state has already made important headway in moving from polluting fossil fuels like coal to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

 

OREGON’S PROBLEM WITH COAL

Even though Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant is now slated to close in 2020, the state’s dependence on coal remains. Approximately one third of the power used in homes and businesses in Oregon comes from coal-burning plants. Pacific Power, Oregon’s second biggest utility company, gets two-thirds of its energy from out-of-state coal plants. Utilities’ over-reliance on coal is putting customers at risk as the cost of coal power rises across the country.

The Coal to Clean Energy transition will help relieve families and business from the climate and public health threats of coal. Instead of buying coal from out-of-state plants, Oregon’s utility companies will invest in clean energy sources that help create new jobs and support local economies.

 

THE COAL TO CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION IS AN AFFORDABLE WAY FORWARD

Oregonians are going to have to pay for hundreds of million dollar upgrades to each aging coal plant that requires pollution controls. It is a better choice to invest in new clean energy that helps to provide local jobs and economic investment across the country.

Clean energy has already proven to be affordable and cost-effective. The cost of solar has dropped by 80% in the last five years[1], and wind energy contract prices have fallen by more than half since 2009.[2] Utilities from Texas to Minnesota are contracting for solar because they have determined that it is now cheaper than natural gas, nuclear and coal. According to a recent banking analysis, electricity generated by solar already is or soon will be cheaper than average prices in 47 U.S. states,[3] and a study by the Department of Energy found the states producing the most wind energy have seen electricity prices fall over the last five years, while prices have increased by close to 8% in other states over the same period.

The transition to clean energy is achievable, affordable and beneficial. For Oregon to prosper in a world where there are limits on carbon and other dangerous pollutants from coal plants, a transition to clean energy provides a clear path forward.

OREGON HAS ABUNDANT CLEAN ENERGY RESOURCES THAT HELP CREATE JOBS

In economic terms, the benefits of a transition to clean energy are undeniable. According to a recent report using Department of Energy data, solar employs more than four times as many people as coal based on the energy it provides. Renewable energy has already brought more than $9 billion of investment to Oregon, and the wind and solar industries combined have created an estimated 5,000 long-term jobs throughout Oregon.[4] These are well-paying jobs in fields such as engineering, construction and manufacturing that offer wages and benefits capable of supporting middle-class families.

Clean energy is a potent economic driver. More than $6 billion has been invested in 40 wind projects in Oregon, ranking the state fifth nationally in installed wind capacity. These projects generate enough electricity to power nearly 700,000 average homes. For farmers and other landowners, annual lease payments from wind projects have brought in more than $9 million.[5] There are 128 solar manufacturing and installation companies in Oregon, employing 2,700 people.[6]

And we have yet to tap Oregon’s full clean energy potential. According to data from the Department of Energy, even a fraction of Oregon’s solar and wind resources could provide electricity to all Oregonians and allow the state to sell excess energy to other states. Meanwhile, there is more clean energy economic development in the pipeline. Oregon has more than 1,000 megawatts of clean energy projects that are already permitted and waiting to build. Removing the coal from our electricity mix opens up room for these job-creating clean energy projects.

Moving Beyond Coal to Address Climate Change

Coal-fired power plants emit one third of all the carbon pollution in the U.S., making coal one of the leading causes of climate change impacts that are already hurting Oregon. As temperatures continue to rise, scientists project increasingly severe impacts that will affect future generations, including[7]:
  • Significant declines in natural water supplies. By 2050, Oregon’s snowpack is expected be cut in half, leaving the state with dramatically lower runoff in the spring and summer
  • Higher ocean temperatures which will damage economically important shellfish and salmon populations
  • Wildfire will likely increase in all forest types, and fires in western Oregon forests will be more common
  • Increased air pollution that leads to asthma attacks, missed work days, and billions of dollars in healthcare and property damage costs

Download this Coal to Clean Energy Fact Sheet now!

Download the Coal to Clean FAQ’s


[1] The Vote Solar Initiative (http://votesolar.org/fact-room/fast-facts/)

[2] American Wind Energy Association (http://www.awea.org/MediaCenter/pressrelease.aspx?ItemNumber=6218)

[3] http://bloom.bg/1tmGFaJ

[4] Investment and jobs data either sourced directly from project reports and news feeds, or based on estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s April 2013 report, Updated Capital Cost Estimates for Utility Scale Electricity Generating Plants

[5] American Wind Energy Association. http://www.awea.org/Resources/state.aspx?ItemNumber=5189

[6] The Solar Foundation. http://thesolarfoundation.org/solarstates/oregon

[7] Oregon Climate Change Research Institute. http://www.scribd.com/doc/44424782/Oregon-Climate-Assessment-Report

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