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TOP STORY: Oregon Bill Would Eliminate Coal-Fired Power by 2025

By Cassandra Profita, OPB

A bill in the Oregon Legislature this session would require electric companies to stop delivering coal-fired power to Oregon customers by 2025.

The replacement power would have to come from sources that are 90 percent cleaner than coal plants.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), targets coal-fired power coming into Oregon from out of state. Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant in Boardman is scheduled to be retired in 2020.

It would affect two investor-owned utilities in the state: Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, both of which own out-of-state coal facilities.

Both companies say the bill would drive up their Oregon customers’ electric bills without guaranteeing an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Read says he’d rather see Oregonians spend money on clean energy than on upgrading aging coal plants. He also notes the bill could create new markets for renewable energy.

“If it passes, we’ll see a cleaner energy future,” he said. “In addition to that we would see the potential of new jobs and new industries and technologies developing in Oregon.”

PGE spokesman Steve Corson says while his company is scheduled to close the Boardman plant by 2020, that doesn’t mean the bill won’t affect PGE customers.

The company also has an ownership share in two coal-fired units in Montana and purchases a portion of its power from the open market, which includes some coal-fired power.

“We’re very concerned,” Corson said. “It is very early in the process, of course. We would want to see some careful scrutiny and analysis of what the real impact of this legislation would be.”

Scott Bolton, director of government affairs for PacifiCorp, says the bill doesn’t require out-of-state coal plants to shut down, so it won’t necessarily reduce overall emissions. It could, however, force utilities to add additional power sources that Oregonians alone will have to pay for.

“It could potentially be a very expensive way to not get much environmental benefit,” he said.

Bolton said he doesn’t know exactly how much it would raise Pacific Power customers’ electric bills.

“We’re analyzing the impacts,” he said. “At this point, it seems that there are much more cost-effective ways to transition energy resources than just giving a deadline for using coal resources.”

Amy Hojnowski of the Sierra Club says her organization has made the bill a top priority this session. The environmental group funded a recent poll that found a majority of voters support the bill. The poll, conducted by Strategies 360, found 58 percent of Oregon voters would support the bill even if it increased their utility bills.


Posted on February 5, 2015.

Campaign Updates

Feb. 5 Oregon Bill Would Eliminate Coal-Fired Power by 2025
Dec. 3 Rep. Tobias Read Wins National Award for Innovative Work on Solving Our Nation’s Infrastructure Problems
Nov. 21 Contracting Jobs Plan Could Bring Big Honors to Beaverton Lawmaker
Nov. 12 Join State Representative Tobias Read for a town hall on Retirement Security
Nov. 5 Thank You

See all campaign updates

In the News

Feb. 24 KATU: Your Voice, Your Vote
Dec. 4 Portland Tribune: Oregon proposes crowdfunding rules
Dec. 4 Portland Tribune: Kitzhaber: Short-term fix, long-term vision for transportation needs
Nov. 25 Portland Business Journal: Contracting jobs plan could bring big honors to Beaverton lawmaker
Nov. 25 Bend Bulletin: Editorial: Make the case to voters for gas tax increases
Nov. 14 Statesman Journal: House Democrats keep Kotek, Hoyle in leadership

See all news stories

Tobias Read and his wife, Heidi

Tobias Read has always been focused on the future, on what our community — and our state — will look like in the long run. And with the lingering recession and the challenges it's created for our economy, we need his unique brand of long-run thinking now more than ever before. Because the decisions we make today on reviving our economy will shape our state for years to come. Learn more about Tobias.

What will Oregon look like in ten years?

What kind of state will our children inherit from us?

Can we honor Oregon's heritage and traditions while readying ourselves for the future?

For me, answering those questions today means that Oregon will be an even better place to live tomorrow.

I try to approach my job as your State Representative by thinking about the long run, putting long-term priorities over short-term political gain. I want to choose innovation and collaboration rather than obstruction.

I appreciate the support and direction you've given me and hope to be able to continue to work for you.