New report: Oregon and nation are on the verge of a renewable future

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Analysis identifies four key strategies for transitioning to clean and renewable resources in Oregon

Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center

PORTLAND– Both Oregon and the nation have the capacity to build an energy system around clean, renewable resources, according to a new report released by Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center. The study, We Have the Power: Reaching America’s potential for clean, renewable energy, comes as the Oregon legislature is considering House Bill 2021, which would require Oregon’s major utilities to supply customers with 100% clean electricity by 2040.

The report found that all 50 states, including Oregon, have sufficient solar and wind potential to meet our current electricity needs. Oregon is also among the 49 that have enough to do so under a 2050 scenario in which such energy uses as transportation and buildings run on electricity.

“Oregonians can have their cake and eat it too when it comes to making good on the cleaner, healthier future we all need,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, State Director with Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center. “We already have more than enough of the key ingredients– abundant wind and solar– right here at our fingertips. And now, we have the right tools and know the recipe that will allow us to harness those resources and transform our energy system to one that doesn’t pollute.”

The authors highlight the broad agreement among researchers that an energy system powered by renewable sources is within reach. This analysis adds to that body of research by identifying four key strategies to build an energy system powered by renewable energy: building out renewable energy; modernizing the grid; reducing and managing energy use; and replacing direct uses of fossil fuels with electricity to take advantage of clean technologies. The paper points to encouraging trends in technology, prices and adoption that suggest progress in each of the four areas can be further accelerated in the years to come.

“How quickly Oregon can make the shift to renewable energy will be decided by how and when we lean into these key action areas,” said Meiffren-Swango. “The good news is that we have seen renewable technologies improve and expand rapidly already, so we should feel confident in our ability to build on that progress and scale up Oregon’s efforts in each area — from rapidly deploying more clean energy and a modern grid to support it, to cutting energy use and converting direct fossil fuel uses to electric alternatives.”

Recommendations for policymakers at the local, state and federal levels include setting ambitious goals for the transition to clean renewable energy, as well as providing the support needed to ensure clean energy can actually deliver on those goals.

“We know what we need to do to ensure a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future,” said Meiffren-Swango. “But it won’t happen by itself — our leaders need to do everything in their power to get us there.”

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Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment.