PNS Daily Newscast - July 10, 2020 

The Supreme Court opens the door for prosecutors to seek President Trump's financial records; a backlash in Florida on school reopening plans.

2020Talks - July 10, 2020 

US Supreme Court rules on Trump's tax returns; Houston mayor cancels Texas GOP's in-person convention; Louisiana has elections; and DC council gives people incarcerated for felonies the right to vote.

On the Governor's Desk: Plan to Cut Out Coal, Increase Renewables

The Boardman Plant is Oregon's only coal-powered plant. Portland General Electric plans to close it by 2020. (Tedder/Wikimedia Commons)
The Boardman Plant is Oregon's only coal-powered plant. Portland General Electric plans to close it by 2020. (Tedder/Wikimedia Commons)
March 7, 2016

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon's legislative session ended after nearly five weeks with a boom in bills passed in the final days.

Lawmakers were constitutionally obligated to end the session by Sunday, and did so with three days to spare.

One of the final bills to come out of the session was Senate Bill 1547, which commits the state to phase out coal powered energy by 2035 and increase the amount of renewable energy powering the state to 50 percent by 2040.

Ry Schwark is spokesman for Pacific Power, the utility company that serves the second most people in the state and supports the bill.

"Our analysis showed that if we made a purchase today, renewables are 20 percent cheaper than an alternative natural gas," he states.

Portland General Electric, Oregon's top utility provider, also supports the bill.

Schwark says another benefit is that once the infrastructure for wind turbines or solar panels is built and paid for, there are no more fuel costs associated with those sources.

"Where if I build a new natural gas plant, I expose my customers to the potential future volatility of natural gas prices,” Schwark adds. “If natural gas prices go up significantly, those costs end up getting passed on to customers.

“So having a resource that does not have a fuel cost is a real benefit in protecting future customer rates."

While Schwark admits building an infrastructure for renewable energy will cost money, he says there are comparable costs for maintaining the region's aging coal plants.

Bob Jenks is executive director of the Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon, a consumer advocacy group that worked with lawmakers on this bill.

"Creating this bill wasn't easy,” he relates. “The utilities and the environmental community didn't start on the same page. It took quite a bit of talking for people to start to understand what the other side's concerns were and what needed to be done to bring people together."

The bill now awaits Gov. Kate Brown's signature to become law.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR