Despite Growth, Oregon Lags Behind on Clean Energy Development

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Recent statewide policy developments could impact future growth

Environment Oregon Research and Policy Center

A new report released today by Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center finds that Oregon has increased solar and wind energy at a rate slightly less than that of the country as a whole. According to the report, over the last decade solar energy generation increased by 41-fold in Oregon compared to 43-fold nationally and wind energy grew five-fold compared to a seven-fold increase nationally. However, Oregon is among the top of the pack when it came to total electric vehicles sold over the last decade as well as increases in capacity for energy storage.

“More and more, we’re seeing evidence that a future powered by renewable energy is within reach,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango from Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center, “The progress we’ve seen in the last decade on wind, solar and other technologies like electric cars and battery storage, should give Oregonians the confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level”.  

The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Positions America for a 100% Renewable Future, provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. Oregon ranked 10th for wind and 22nd for solar.

The report describes the factors that rapid growth in each category since 2007, including policies, improved technologies and lower costs, all of which suggest the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come.  While the recent creation of a new rebate for electric vehicles by the Oregon legislature will help speed the transition to zero-emission vehicles, the failure to extend the Residential Energy Tax Credit expiring at the end of this year, could lead to Oregon falling behind other states in solar development.

“Key clean energy technologies are improving rapidly and getting cheaper seemingly every day,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “These and other advances open up new opportunities to end our dependence on fossil fuels and embrace a future built on clean, renewable energy.”

The report also comes as a growing number of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions consider commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. Currently 37 cities have committed to 100 percent renewable energy, including Portland and Multnomah County. Nearly 100 major companies have made a 100 percent renewable commitment, including Apple, Walmart and LEGO. Hawaii is committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. California and Massachusetts are currently considering legislation.  And, bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress.

“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said Meiffren-Swango. “We need to seize the moment and lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy.”