Power utilities in Oregon have agreed to support a legislative effort to phase out most of the state’s coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.
The exception is a coal station in Montana, co-owned by Portland General Electric, that will be allowed to run until 2035 if its other owners refuse to shut it down sooner.
“The proposed legislation would only affect Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, which together serve about 70% of Oregon’s electricity,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. “It also calls for doubling the amount of renewable energy the utilities generate by 2040,” increasing the state renewable energy standard to 50% in that year.
“I think the ballot measure clearly had an impact on the utilities thinking they wanted to avoid what would be a pretty ugly fight,” said Bob Jenks of the Oregon Citizens Utility Board, who negotiated the agreement along with several environmental groups. “Phasing out coal and replacing it with renewables is fairly popular with the voters.”
Pacific Power spokesperson Scott Bolton said the extended timeline would allow the company to phase out coal and phase in renewables as economics dictate. “We can meet the state’s climate and environmental goals if given the space as a business to come up with the best plan to achieve that,” he told OPB. “That’s what you can get in these negotiated agreements that, frankly, is lost when they’re fought out through ballot measures.”