Roger Hamilton OpEd: "Weaning state off coal is what Oregonians want"

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future” — John Kennedy

Just over five years ago, Oregon regulators approved a proposal to shut down the state’s only coal-burning power plant. For more than three decades, the Boardman plant was a workhorse providing electricity to Oregon families and businesses. But in the end, with overwhelming public support, it became clear the benefits of closing the doors on Boardman, by far the state’s biggest air polluter, outweighed the costs.

Having served on the Oregon Public Utility Commission, I believe it was a prudent decision that sent Oregon down the path of transition away from dirty, costly and outdated energy sources such as coal to cleaner sources like wind, solar and geothermal, which over the long run will prove less costly, both environmentally and economically.

We are now at another energy crossroads. The Legislature is considering a plan that would require utilities serving customers in Oregon to wean themselves from coal, whether the plants are here or in other states, and increase the percentage of electricity from renewable sources to 50 percent by 2040.

Created by a diverse group of utility, energy industry, advocacy organizations and community groups that worked together, the plan proposed to the Legislature has built-in flexibility and incentives for utilities to achieve that goal — and conceptually, it is a natural extension of the steps we’ve already taken to adapt our energy systems to the 21st century. We are phasing out Boardman. We adopted a vibrant renewable energy standard eight years ago — a measure that enjoyed bipartisan support in the Legislature. And now we have Oregon’s Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan.

This is the change that Oregonians want.

To read the full editorial, please visit The Register Guard.