- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A group of sustainable energy advocates have partnered with power companies to try to reduce coal consumption in Oregon.

The coalition of environmental groups has agreed to drop its bid to force power companies to offer 50 percent renewable energy by 2040, if the Legislature will pass a similar proposal in February or March.

“If the proposal becomes law, clean energy advocates have agreed to withdraw a proposed ballot measure that would include many of the same provisions,” according to an outline of the plan unveiled Wednesday.

The coalition, which includes the Oregon Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, the Sierra Club and others, has reached an agreement with Pacific Power and Portland General Electric to draft a proposal that will debut next week at the House Committee on Energy and Environment meets.

The new plan is a scaled back version of the ballot measure. It would require coal to be eliminated from Oregon’s electric supply by 2035, encourage the companies to build electric vehicle charging stations and increase the amount of renewable energy like solar and wind in the state.

The ballot measure would have required all electric companies to comply with the new renewable energy and coal requirements, only PGE and Pacific Power, which provide a combined 70 percent of electricity in Oregon, would have to follow the new proposed requirements.

Ry Schwark, a spokesman for Pacific Power, which is a subsidiary of the conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Energy, told the Bulletin (https://goo.gl/sPcYRC ) that the plan speeds up efforts the company is already working on.

“It accelerates the process a little bit but gives us a clear timeline for us to plan against, (and) it gives us the flexibility to meet that,” Schwark said.

As of the end of 2014, coal made up about 24 percent of the power supply from PGE, said PGE spokesman Steve Corson. For Pacific Power, that figure is closer to 60 percent, according to Schwark.

The proposal would grant the utility companies flexibility in how they use renewable-energy credits, the ability build electric charging stations into rates and the ability to block an entity such as a municipality from acquiring service territory without consent.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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