The Oregon Legislature stuck with its 30 day session calendar and pounded their gavel sine die but not before they passed rather sweeping energy legislation designed to eliminate “coal by wire” through an increase in the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by the year 2040. It didn’t appear to be easy. FOIA requests from The Oregonian for email communications from commissioners and staff at the OPUC uncovered significant skepticism about the idea focusing on questions as to whether the effect of the bill would actually close any out-of-state coal generation and the overall cost of the idea to Oregon ratepayers. This tended to create a partisan divide on this issue in Salem, but given Democrats control over both chambers, the bill was able to get to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk.
Alas, the legislation had very little if anything to cheer about for energy efficiency. While bill language restated the principle that efficiency should be seen as the first clean energy resource of choice, the actual required actions by the new law focused virtually exclusively on more intensive renewable energy development. The development of more supply side resources of any stripe doesn’t, of course, make energy efficiency any less available. Energy efficiency remains the least expensive resource to acquire, has intrinsic load following attributes, and is the clean energy resource that actually contributes to the overall growth and productivity of the larger Oregon economy.
The Washington State Legislature meanwhile is running long as lawmakers were unable to agree on state budget adjustments for the current biennium. Governor Inslee called them into special session immediately and since then budget discussions have ground their way forward. Education funding remains a big splinter in the legislative finger with some but likely insufficient progress this session in satisfying the Supreme Court’s mandate on K-12 funding. Energy was not top of mind during the session and NEEC’s priority bill covering statewide mandatory benchmark and reporting died an early death in the House.