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Monday, March 19, 2007

News From My Backyard: Summary of Oregon Renewable Energy Act

[Please see full disclosure at end of this post]

The following is a general summary of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act, Senate Bill 838, as introduced to the Oregon Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, March 15th.

A more detailed Section-by-Section summary can be found in the resources section below, as can a link to the Powering Oregon's Future website which contains more information and resources on the proposed Oregon Renewable Energy Standard.

The Oregon Renewable Energy Act, Senate Bill 838, establishes a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that calls for 25% of Oregon’s electricity to come from renewable resources by 2025.

The goal of this legislation is to help Oregonians transition to a safer, more reliable and affordable energy future by relying more on our own clean, domestic renewable resources. This will help decrease our reliance on imported fossil fuels. Oregon has an abundance of renewable resources that make this an achievable goal.

  • A utility that sells more than 1% of the retail electricity in the state must meet the following goals: At least 5% of their sales must be from qualifying renewable energy sources starting in 2011; 15% by 2015; 20% by 2020 and 25% by 2025.

  • Smaller utilities are subject to a much smaller standard. At least 5% of their sales must be from renewable sources by 2025.

  • The RES has a cost cap to protect customers from unexpected rate increases. (This is designed to protect from worst-case scenarios and there is no reason to assume it will ever be triggered. In the 21 other states that have an RES, there are no examples of renewable energy significantly increasing customers’ bills.)

  • Eligible renewable resources include wind, biomass, hydro, geothermal, wave energy, solar power and hydrogen derived from these sources.

  • Several types of biomass are eligible including: solid organic fuels from wood, forest or field residues, animal waste, landfill gas, and spent pulping liquor.

  • Hydro projects are included so long as the project is not on a designated “wild and scenic” or protected river. Small hydro projects on irragtion pipelines and canals are eligible. Efficiency upgrades at dams existing before 1995 are also eligible as are some hydro projects newly-certified as “low-impact” hydropower facilities.

  • The RES specifically states that no utility has to give up access to low-cost hydropower contracts (including power from BPA) in order to comply with the standard.

  • It includes renewable energy projects that date back to 1995 to award early adopters.

  • Utilities can comply with the RES by building their own project, buying electricity from someone else’s project, buying tradable renewable energy certificates (“green tags”), making an alternative compliance payment or a combination of these.

  • Utilities are allowed to recover all of their prudent costs associated with complying.

  • The RES supports the development of small-scale community renewable projects that are good for farmers and rural communities.

  • [Stay tuned at WattHead for continued coverage of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act as it moves through the Oregon Legislature...]


  • Powering Oregon's Future - Information and Resources on SB 838, the Oregon Renewable Energy Act
  • Text of Senate Bill 838 (as introduced to Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, March 15th 2007)
  • Section-by-Section Summary of SB 838 [prepared by me]
  • PDF version of the above bill summary
  • Previous post on Senate Committee Hearings for Oregon Renewable Energy Act

  • A note on bill numbers: Those of you who may have been following the progress of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act may be a bit confused about the bill numbers right now. The bill was originally introduced as Senate Bill 373 and the first three committee hearings heard testimony in support of SB 373. For some unexplained reason, the bill number for the Oregon Renewable Energy Act was changed to SB 838 at the beginning of Thursday's hearing. The committee has ensured everyone that any testimony or letters submitted on SB 373 will be considered for SB 838.

    Just remember: SB 838 = SB 373 = the Oregon Renewable Energy Act = a 25% by 2025 Renewable Energy Standard for Oregon.

    [Full disclosure: I work for Renewable Northwest Project, key advocates of the proposed Renewable Energy Standard. I am responsible for maintaining the Powering Oregon's Future website and am responsible for most of it's content. I should be no means be considered an 'unbiased party' but have done my best to report in a factual and balanced manner the events that have transpired during the hearings on SB 838.]

    [Image credit: Oberlin College]

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