Oregon To Phase Out Coal — Pro-Climate Bill Involves Elimination Of Fossil Fuel From Power Generation

The state of Oregon has voted to phase out coal. The state is the first in the entire United States to vote for a complete ban on coal-generated power.

Apart from the hiking the minimum wage to anywhere between $12.50 and $14.75, the state of Oregon has passed an anti-coal bill that will combat the rising threat of climate change. The Oregon senate approved Senate Bill 1547, which mandates that by 2035, at the latest, the state’s utility companies must ensure none of the electricity they provide, comes from coal. If that’s not encouraging enough, the bill sets a 50 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2040.

What this essentially means is that within the next two decades, electricity producing companies will have to compulsorily phase out coal as their primary source of raw material for the generation of power. Not only do the companies have to stop their reliance on the fossil fuel to generate electricity, they will have that ensure, by 2040, at least 50 percent of their power comes from renewable sources by 2040, reported NPR.

The bill requires the state’s two largest utilities to stop buying electricity from coal-powered plants by the year 2030, reported Northwest News Network. However, this move might not have immediate ramifications due to the coal stockpile, which will have to be used up. But after 2035 ends, the utility companies won’t be allowed to purchase electricity from those plants that rely on coal as their raw material. By 2040, utility companies should have found electricity producing companies that rely on renewable energy sources like solar, wind, tidal, etc. to produce electricity.

Senate Bill 1547, also called as the Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act, was voted into law by the country’s legislature yesterday, reported New Scientist. The bill was passed 38-20 in a vote in the state’s Senate. It has been backed by the Oregon’s utility consumer advocate for quite some time.

Apart from reducing reliance on fossil fuels to power the state, Oregon legislators have also asked utilities to extensively integrate renewable energy into the grid. They will also have to step up the installation of charging stations for the electric vehicles, indicating it knows these vehicles are about to become affordable to drive and will need a lot more charging stations to alleviate range anxiety.

The legislation will make Oregon’s energy among the cleanest in the country and puts the state in the growing top tier of renewable energy standards, along with California, New York, and Hawaii, reported Scared Heart Spectrum.

It is interesting to note that the state of Oregon has a single coal-fired power station, which is already slated to be shuttered by 2020. However, the state imports about one-third of its electricity in states of Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Needless to add, most of the power plants rely on coal. Surprisingly, two major utility companies in the state, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, have actively backed the deal.

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Supporters of the bill feel even though the state of Oregon isn’t a big one, the decision will pressure energy providers to migrate towards cleaner energy sources. Renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar and wind are the most preferred sources of clean energy. However, opponents of the pro-climate bill point out that going coal-free will lead to higher electricity bills. Portland General Electric has confirmed that the new rule could result in a cost increase to customers averaging 1.5 percent per year between 2017 and 2040, which, needless to say, doesn’t seem like a deal breaker.

While Oregon has vowed to go coal-free within the next 20 years, will the other states simply reallocate their coal plants to customers who don’t insist on clean energy, thereby having little to no impact on the carbon emissions?

[Photo by Christian Petersen-Clausen/Getty Images]