The Oregon legislature is considering a bill to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
We believe a well-designed GHG pricing program can help Oregon meet its climate goals, so we’re encouraged the draft legislation, House Bill 2020, is built around several key principles:
- It includes consumer protections so electric utility customers don’t pay twice: Once for compliance permits under the new law, on top of the cost of the investments they are paying for already, as we transform the electric system and dramatically cut carbon emissions replacing older resources with renewable energy, investing in energy efficiency — $96 million this year — deploying smart grid technologies and more.
- It takes an economy-wide approach that includes utilities while also regulating emissions from transportation and other industries
- It’s designed to work with the state’s other climate change mandates, like transitioning to renewable power and eliminating coal-fired power generation, to promote real emissions reductions.
- It charges the Oregon Public Utility Commission with oversight of the utility consumer protection provisions, providing independent review to ensure customer benefit
What’s happening right now
Legislators in Salem are holding hearings on H.B. 2020 during their 2019 session. Visit the Oregon Climate Action Program website for an explanation of how the program would work and who would be affected, including commonly-asked questions.
Creating an affordable, effective policy
Our customers want clean and reliable power that is also affordable, so the Oregon Climate Action Program needs to be designed to complement existing clean energy laws, advance progress on Oregon’s climate goals and protect customers from unnecessary costs.
As drafted, H.B. 2020 does a good job of protecting electricity customers from paying more than necessary for carbon dioxide and other GHG reductions to the electric system. It does this by issuing a pre-determined amount of compliance allowances, or permits, to regulated electric companies to protect customers from the rate increases that would otherwise be necessary. For each ton of GHGs emitted, a utility must use one allowance. The number of permits issued each year is initially based on compliance with Oregon’s existing clean energy mandate, 2016’s Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act. After this initial period, the number of permits decreases rapidly, consistent with the required decrease in Oregon’s total emissions. With oversight from the Oregon Public Utility Commission, the allowances must be used to keep costs down for customers and advance the transition to a clean electricity system.
Without these allowances, the program would unnecessarily drive up prices for the two million people and 100,000 businesses PGE serves, who are already paying for GHG reductions through other investments.
Unnecessary cost increases would also make it more expensive for Oregon’s families, businesses, schools and transit agencies to switch to electric vehicles. The transportation sector is Oregon’s largest (and still growing) source of GHG emissions. Oregon cannot meet its climate goals unless transportation sector emissions start coming down — and the sooner the better. Electric vehicles powered by increasingly clean energy can play an important role in making this happen.
Part of our clean energy vision
For more than a decade, we’ve been supporting local, state and federal policies that keep Oregon on the path to a clean and affordable energy future. We’ve invested in new renewables that will make our energy mix 50 percent emissions-free by 2021, helped craft Oregon’s renewable energy standard and deadlines for removing coal-fired generation from our electricity mix, sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Energy Trust of Oregon to help our customers with energy efficiency, and are building a flexible smart grid that will let us partner with you to create a clean, affordable and reliable electric power system.
For more on how we’re approaching this critical effort, read Our Vision for a Clean and Reliable Energy Future. We also commissioned a first-of-its-kind study that’s helping us identify the key steps needed to achieve a low-GHG future. Read about the path to a decarbonized energy economy.