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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

News From My Backyard: Oregon House Passes Renewable Energy Standard With Broad, Bipartisan Support

The Oregon House of Representatives passed the Oregon Renewable Energy Act today on a strong, bipartisan show of support, 41-18. The bill now heads back to the Senate, which previously passed the bill, for concurrence.

[Please see full disclosure at end of post]

The Oregon House of Representatives today passed Senate Bill 838, the Oregon Renewable Energy Act with strong, bipartisan support (41-18). The landmark legislation enacts a Renewable Energy Standard requiring Oregon’s largest utilities to obtain 25% of their electricity from clean, homegrown renewable energy sources by 2025. The bill previously passed the Oregon Senate 20-10 on April 10th.

“I think history will remember the Oregon Renewable Energy Act as a landmark piece of legislation, on par with Oregon’s Bottle Bill,” said Rachel Shimshak, Executive Director of the Renewable Northwest Project. “The bill will expand the use of Oregon’s generous endowment of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and wave resources and help the state make the transition from fossil fuel dependence to energy independence.”

The bill received widespread public support from constituents across the state during public testimony in the Senate and House. Supporters touted the bill’s potential to increase Oregon’s energy independence, create new jobs, keep more money in Oregon communities, help fight global warming, and protect ratepayers from the rising costs of fossil fuels. The bill received strong support from both rural and urban constituencies.

Rural landowners, and county and city officials from Eastern Oregon were particularly excited about the economic development the bill will bring to their communities. “Renewable energy development will bring a new infusion of revenue to rural Oregon counties that will be crucial to the continuation of critical services,” said former Union County Commissioner, John Lamoreau. “It is estimated that Union county will receive $10 million over the next twenty years from just one wind project, and it’s construction and operation will bring hundreds of jobs to the area.”

“I’ve never seen Oregonians from all four corners of the state come together to support a proposal like this,” said Troy Gagliano, Senior Policy Associate for the Renewable Northwest Project. “The Oregon Renewable Energy Act is that rare piece of legislation that can unite Oregon.”

Led by Governor Ted Kulongoski, the bill received overwhelming support from cities, counties, farmers, labor, businesses, environmentalists, consumer advocates, tribes, students, investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and the Public Utility Commission. A list of public supporters of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act can be found here

More information about the Oregon Renewable Energy Act can be found at


  • PDF copy of Renewable Northwest Project news release for distribution
  • Text of Senate Bill 838 (pdf, C-engrossed version, as passed on the floor today)
  • Brief Summary of SB 838 (pdf)
  • Detailed Section-by-Section summary of SB 838 (pdf)
  • Previous post on passage of SB 838 by Oregon Senate - April 11th
  • Powering Oregon's Future website - news and resources on SB 838
  • "Clean-energy Bill Sails Through Oregon House" - The Oregonian's coverage of passage of SB 838, May 24th, 2007

  • [Full disclosure: I work for Renewable Northwest Project, key advocates of the proposed Renewable Energy Standard. I wrote the above news release and 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 debate on SB 838.]

    I have to say, I am ecstatic at the moment!

    I have personally been working to support the passage of this landmark renewable energy legislation since coming on board at Renewable Northwest Project in July 2006. Today is the culmination of almost a year of hard work helping to shape the nascent legislation and usher it through the legislature. It's still not quite over - the bill still needs to pass concurrence in the Senate and get signed into law - but today we've reached the top of the mountain!

    I'd like to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped pass this bill. It was truly a team effort and everyone who helped support SB 838 in the various stages of its life deserves to share in this moment of victory.

    I firmly believe that SB 838 is a strong and well-thought-out piece of legislation, the product of a long and involved stakeholder process during which the various views and concerns of a broad and diverse range of interests were considered and addressed. It will help put Oregon on a path to sustainable energy future while strengthening Oregon's economy, helping curb greenhouse gas emissions and protecting ratepayers from increasing and volatile fossil fuel costs.

    If you had asked me what single policy I would like to work on after graduating last year, I would have told you I wanted to help pass a renewable energy standard in my home state. I felt embarrassed every time I looked at a map of states supporting renewable energy and saw that Oregon was not amongst those with renewable energy standards. For a state that prides itself on its tradition of environmental leadership, this simply made no sense to me. Someone should do something about that, I thought, and I guess there's no reason why that someone, or someones in reality, shouldn't include me.

    Now, after a year with the Renewable Northwest Project, I have had the privilege and opportunity to help pass renewable energy standards in both Oregon and Washington, adding these two Northwest states to those that strongly support clean, homegrown renewable energy.

    Today is a proud day to be an Oregonian!

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