Portland, Oregon — American wind power hailed Oregon’s bipartisan decision to raise the state renewable energy law to 50 percent renewables by 2040. The new state law doubles Oregon’s access to renewable energy, putting the state on the path to cut costs, keep the lights on, and create cleaner air.
The new state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) target puts Oregon on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, which calls for reducing carbon emissions 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Portland General Electric and Pacific Power will now generate 50 percent of their power from renewables by 2040, up from the current 25 percent by 2025 target, a move that will help spur significant growth in local wind and solar energy investments.
AWEA applauds the leadership of the Oregon legislature in passing this landmark renewable energy and clean energy legislation. A big thank you goes out to the following Oregon lawmakers for their clean energy vision on this momentous occasion:
• House of Representatives Speaker Tina Kotek
• Representative Jessica Vega Pederson (Chair of the House Energy and Environment Committee)
• Representative Mark Johnson (Vice-Chair, House Energy and Environment Committee)
• Senate President Peter Courtney
• Senator Lee Beyer (Chair of the Senate Business and Transportation Committee)
Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) added: “The passage of this historic legislation would not have been possible without their leadership, and the leadership of a broad coalition of energy officials, consumer advocates, and community groups, working together to develop the next generation of energy policy for Oregon. Wind power can help get this job done for Oregon, and save money doing it.”
Other leading U.S. wind industry spokespersons weighed in on the historic agreement.
“With this new law in place Oregon joins the exclusive 50 percent renewable energy club,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy, and current Chair of AWEA’s Board. “The U.S. wind energy industry applauds these commonsense, ‘no-regrets’ state laws spurring added economic investment, job creation, and consumer savings. These states are well ahead of the curve as new market drivers and state-federal policies point in the direction of a cleaner electric grid.”
States with renewable energy policies of 50 percent or higher include Oregon, Hawaii, California, and Vermont. Legislation under consideration in New York could soon add the Empire State as the fifth state with a 50 percent or more RPS. Non-utility purchasers, including big name brands like Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, and Google, have created a new market for renewable energy by investing in renewables as a way to cut costs and lower their carbon footprints.
“Today Oregon showed the type of leadership needed to build the bridge to America’s energy future,” said Chris Brown, President of Vestas Americas and incoming Board Chair for AWEA. “Here in Portland, and all across the U.S., Vestas employees and factories are driving the Clean Energy Economy – and the reinvigoration of American manufacturing that is building the materials needed to fulfil the promise of these state laws. Workers at American wind power’s over 500 factories are ready to help meet the rising demand for wind energy created by these state laws.”
There are 3,300 megawatts of clean, renewable energy installed in Oregon today, generating enough power for over 700,000 Oregon homes. That growth has resulted in renewable energy businesses investing close to $10 billion dollars in the state, support over 5,000 well-paying jobs, and contributes to state and local revenue by paying over $150 million.
Growing wind energy builds a better future for Oregon families by benefiting public health. As the state secures more of its electricity from renewables, the state will increasingly cut air pollution, including carbon emissions, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
Wind energy supplies more than 12 percent of Oregon’s in-state electricity production. Including Oregon, 12 states now generate 10 percent or more of their in-state electricity from wind.
Over $2.3 billion in savings are possible on Oregon electric bills by wind supplying nearly 37 percent of the state’s electricity by 2030 according to recently released AWEA data. The cost savings estimate comes from calculations made using the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 report Wind Vision: A new era for wind power in the United States.
Other economic benefits for Oregon that can come from greater wind energy use include $48 million in annual property tax revenue and almost $22 million in annual wind farm lease payments to landowners by 2030. According to the Wind Vision, wind energy can double from supplying nearly five percent of U.S. electricity demand today to 10 percent by 2020, 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050, making wind the leading source of electricity in the U.S.
Wind power installed in Oregon today helps avoid over 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year – or 307,000 cars’ worth of carbon emissions. Wind also helps Oregon conserve over 750 million gallons of water every year.