On Monday March 22nd, the Oregon House Committee on Energy and Environment held its first public hearing for House Bill 2021. House Bill 2021, in an amended form, would commit Oregon to 100% clean energy over the next few decades, and include concrete steps for getting more renewable energy projects up and running. The details of the bill are still being worked out, and many different stakeholders invested in this clean energy goal are weighing in. Below is the testimony Environment Oregon provided on the initial suite of amendments proposed.
Chair Marsh and Members of the Committee,
Environment Oregon is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space. We have tens of thousands of members across the state, and our members and other Oregonians across the state have told us clearly and unequivocally that they want strong climate action. We are supportive of Oregon making a bold commitment to 100% clean energy, as laid out in parts of the -1 and -3 amendments to House Bill 2021, and urge this committee and the Legislature to make sure that that commitment is as strong as possible.
Powering Oregon with 100% clean energy will allow us to cut carbon emissions in line with our climate action goals, clean up our air, and protect Oregonians’ health. We have the ability to harness clean, abundant energy from the sun and wind more efficiently — and cheaply — than ever before, tapping into power that doesn’t pollute or make us sick. Unfortunately, Oregon still produces and consumes much of our state’s energy from fossil fuels. We can have healthier communities right now, and a livable future for generations to come—but to get there, we need to transform the way we produce and consume energy. Multiple states across the country have already made similar commitments to 100% clean energy, putting themselves on a path to a cleaner and brighter future. Oregon should join them.
One critical part of any meaningful commitment to 100% clean energy is the inclusion of aggressive interim targets for the state and electricity providers to hit along the way to the end goal of 100% clean, an approach featured in both the -1 and -3 amendments. We are supportive of the approach to 100% clean taken by the -3 amendments, namely strengthening Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to achieve a 90% renewable standard by 2035 and 100% by 2050. Increasing the RPS will help to more specifically boost truly clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
We are also supportive of many other sections of the -1 and -3 amendments. Requiring electricity providers to submit clean energy plans to the PUC and DEQ as a part of existing Integrated Resource Plans is a good approach to ensure that covered entities are meeting their goals, as is incentivizing hitting goals early (section 10 of the -1 amendments).
We also support the focus of sections 15 and 25 of the -1 amendments on ensuring that small scale, community-focused renewable energy projects with community benefits are being incentivized and allowed by the PUC, an approach that will help keep the benefits of new renewable energy projects in Oregon communities. Relatedly, section 12 of the -3 amendments increases minimum requirements for distributed renewable energy, which is a great tangible step for spurring the development of community-based renewable energy projects.
Section 18 of the -1 amendments allows local governments to take the lead on adopting renewable energy to power their communities. We believe this is a great way for communities that want to move to 100% clean energy ahead of schedule to do so, setting an example for other cities and municipalities to follow and driving renewable energy development.
Finally, we believe it is important to make sure that the 100% clean energy we commit to is actually clean, whichever approach we decide to take. Trash incineration, biogas, biomass, and nuclear energy have no place in a clean and renewable future, especially when we can meet our needs with wind, solar, and other truly renewable resources.
The wildfires that swept across Oregon’s forests, devastated families and communities, and darkened our skies last fall are a potent and poignant reminder of the urgency of climate action. It’s time for Oregon to commit to 100% clean energy, and Oregon deserves a 100% commitment that meets the scale of the environmental challenges we face, focuses on truly clean and renewable energy sources, and benefits Oregon communities. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on this important issue.