Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ballot Measures will Eliminate Coal from Oregon Energy Mix

Clean Energy coalition seeks to nix dirty coal in favor of renewables


SALEM, Ore. -- Renew Oregon filed ballot measures late yesterday with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office that require Oregon’s largest utilities to transition off of coal-fired electricity by 2030. Simultaneously, the measures would increase the state’s use of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar to 50% by 2040.

These measures would make Oregon the first state to have a public vote to go coal free. The measures are intended for the election in November 2016.

Renew Oregon, a coalition of business, health, faith, labor, agriculture and climate advocates is leading the campaign. The measures have two Chief Petitioners: Margaret Ngai is a registered nurse and mother of two small children; Nik Blosser is an Oregon businessman and co-founder of the Oregon Business Association.

“Oregon’s leadership on renewable energy has brought us nearly $10 billion in investments and created thousands of jobs since our state’s first major wind project came online, ” said Blosser, an Oregon business leader and a Chief Petitioner on the measures. “It’s time to double down on that opportunity.”

The campaign will put Oregon on track to get more than 80% clean and renewable electricity by 2040, when combined with hydropower, and result in significant reduction of greenhouse gas pollution.

“Climate change poses a real and immediate threat to human health,” said Renée Klein, CEO of the American Lung Association in Oregon and a Renew Oregon co-chair. “Rising temperatures  exacerbate existing health challenges and disproportionately impact our children, our elderly and other vulnerable people. Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians will find it harder to breath if current trends continue. 

The filing of these ballot measure comes at a time when Oregonians are acutely aware of how climate pollution is impacting their lives: a winter with record-low snowpacks lead to a summer in which 25 of 36 counties were in drought emergencies, capped by an astonishing wildfire season affected nearly everyone in the state -- the second worst on record 

“Oregonians are alarmed to find out that one-third of the electricity in our state still comes from burning coal,” said Thomas Wheatley, Campaign Director, citing numbers from the Department of Energy. “Research shows that the transition to renewables will lower electricity bills in the long term. With this measure we can save money and leave a better world for our children.”

Measure #1 will require that large utilities phase out power generated from coal-fired power plants by 2030 in Oregon and obtain 50% of new generation from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2040.

Measure #2 will do all of the above with the addition of an added a mechanism that will ensure corporate compliance with the law. If utilities fail to comply with the pollution reduction standards in the measure, executive salaries will be adjusted in line with their performance.

If Oregon transitions off coal, the state would be part of a national trend.Hawaii is already transitioning toward 100 percent renewable energy. California has plans to move to 50 percent renewables. Colorado, New York and Vermont have similar plans, and three US cities have already completely transitioned to renewables. Even China’s coal boom is grinding to a halt.


Renew Oregon is a growing coalition of businesses and workers, healthcare professionals and parents, farmers and ranchers, faith and community organizations, and individuals coming together to move our state away from polluting energy to a clean energy economy. We are working to create good-paying jobs for all Oregonians, protect air and water from pollution, and help families stay healthy.