PORTLAND -- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown celebrated the signing of a bill committing electricity providers to deliver 100 percent clean power to Oregon customers by 2040 into law at a ceremony on Tuesday. The move builds on a national trend, as it makes Oregon the eighth state to enact a legislative commitment to 100 percent clean or renewable electricity. The Beaver State joins the ranks of Hawaii, California, Washington, New Mexico, New York, Maine and Virginia. By setting 2040 as the deadline to reach its commitment, Oregon ties New York for the fastest statewide timeline in the nation.
“From Washington to Virginia, people are raising their voices for power that doesn’t pollute,” said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable campaign director at Environment America. “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.”
The policy sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold in Oregon compared to a 2010 baseline. The legislation includes requirements for 80 percent emissions reductions for power sold in-state by 2030, 90 percent by 2035 and, ultimately, 100 percent by 2040. Since emissions from Oregon power have been on the decline since 2010, the bill will, in effect, require emission-free electricity in the state by 2040. Given the state’s existing renewable portfolio standard and hydropower generation capacity, renewables are set to deliver the vast majority of the new zero emissions electricity target.
The bill’s passage follows years of organizing and advocacy for a clean and renewable future in Oregon. Since 2017, Environment Oregon, which is part of the Environment America network of 29 state environmental groups, has been working to build broad public support for the vision of a future powered by 100 percent clean energy. The organization has distributed educational materials about the benefits of renewable energy to more than 400,000 Oregonians; released research reports depicting Oregon’s vast renewable potential and progress to date; and engaged its members around the issue. This year, a broad coalition of stakeholders and organizations came together to get a 100 percent clean bill across the finish line.
"It's thrilling to see Oregon once again leading the country on clean energy and climate action," said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, state director with Environment Oregon. "Powering our state with clean energy, instead of dirty fossil fuels, cuts climate emissions from the electricity sector and helps keep our air and water clean, ensuring a clean and healthy future for all Oregonians. And, there's such broad support for a renewable energy future here in Oregon -- it's something everyone can get excited about."
The efforts in Oregon reflect a nationwide push to ensure states’ energy needs will be met with clean and renewable resources by midcentury or sooner. Environment America and its state groups began public outreach around its 100% Renewable Campaign in 2017, and played a key role in convincing California, New Mexico, Maine, Washington and Virginia to make commitments to 100 percent clean or renewable electricity. The organization continues to advocate for similar action in a dozen additional states.
“Public demand to transform our energy system for the better continues to grow in communities across the country,” said Searson. “Today, we should congratulate Gov. Kate Brown and the legislators whose leadership will ensure a cleaner, healthier future for Oregonians. And tomorrow, we must get back to the critical work of delivering that better future for every American.”
Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.
Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.