In 2020, Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order for the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP) to respond to changing climate conditions within our state. That year, Oregon suffered from unprecedented heat that killed over 100 residents who lacked sufficient home cooling systems. We’ve also seen entire towns lost to wildfires as 75% of our state experiences severe drought.
OCAP creates the impetus for government, businesses, and residents to work together to implement clean energy programs. The plan includes multiple sectors: transportation, public health, clean energy and buildings, and natural and working lands. Recently, the OCAP Steering Committee published its two-year progress report. Accomplishments and forward movement is being made in all the key areas, and some of the highlights regarding clean energy are especially important to our RVCCC’s initiatives.
Oregon Climate Action Plan Progress:
For example, OCAP has worked with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to undertake decarbonization activities and strengthen rules for reducing climate pollution. Their work will also make clean energy solutions more affordable and accessible for utility customers.
- Changes were made to the Oregon Community Solar Program to increase the discount from 20% to 40% for low-income households.
- Policies were altered to avoid disconnecting power for customers suffering financial hardship during the pandemic.
- Utility companies throughout the state are soliciting engagement from their communities to develop systems that will best benefit them.
- The PUC began a “Natural Gas Fact Finding” process to understand how decarbonization scenarios may impact Oregon customers.
Oregon State Legislature Accomplishments:
OCAP also noted some key steps the Oregon Legislature has taken since 2020 to enhance progress in these areas. First, HB 2021 sets a goal to move Oregon’s electricity grid to 100% clean energy by 2040. Next, HB 2475 allows utility companies to charge lower rates for lower-income households and to involve environmental advocates as they make decisions about utility rates. Finally, HB 3141 provides long-term support for energy efficiency projects by requiring 25% of the funding for small-scale renewable projects go to low- and moderate-income customers.
In the next year, OCAP anticipates progress on more initiatives, including:
- Improve utility planning with better integration between the social cost of carbon and performance-based rate making.
- Complete further evaluation of the future of fossil “natural” gas in Oregon.
- Regulate emissions from in-state fossil gas plants not covered by HB 2021 or the Climate Protection Program.
- Further investments in distributed energy resources like community-owned solar.
Are you interested in learning more about clean air and water initiatives in Oregon?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is to enhance the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!