Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski continues to take aggressive action in the green business realm. Having made renewable energy one of his budget priorities, Gov. Kulongoski filed nine bills under the climate change umbrella to be considered in the 2009 legislative session. According to Gov. Kulongoski, the bills will “build on our leadership in renewable energy that will create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
SB 80 would authorize Oregon’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade program. To flesh out the program details, SB 80 calls for the creation of the Oregon Climate Initiative Task Force, a citizen-led public process to help the Department of Environmental Quality craft the program’s administrative rules over a two-year period. The rules will then be presented to the 2011 legislature for consideration, with the program slated to go into effect in 2012.
Drawing from Germany’s success with a solar feed-in tariff program, HB 2121 seeks to promote solar energy in Oregon by creating a production incentive pilot program that will pay for the electricity produced by a solar project. The pilot program will evaluate whether production payments—as opposed to incentivizing capital expenditures—make investments in solar energy more affordable.
SB 79 is intended to give green buildings a boost by creating energy performance certificates that will function like vehicle miles-per-gallon ratings. This proposed bill charges the Oregon Department of Energy (“ODOE”) with creating an energy efficiency rating system to be adopted and implemented for new and existing residential buildings and commercial buildings of a certain size by 2011 and 2012, respectively. SB 79 also establishes a goal of net-zero emissions homes and buildings by 2030. To accomplish this, the bill calls for increased energy efficiency in commercial and residential building codes by 30 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Pursuant to SB 101, ODOE and the Public Utility Commission would develop an emissions performance standard requiring new energy production sources to be at least as clean as natural gas.
HB 2186 would authorize the Environmental Quality Commission to develop and adopt a low-carbon fuel standard that will require fuel providers to reduce the average carbon intensity of fuels sold by 10 percent over time.
In addition to the feed-in tariff legislation, three bills would help fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. HB 2180 would create a Renewable Energy Fund, similar to the Cultural Trust program, that would provide up-front funding for small renewable energy projects. The bill would enable citizens to donate money into the fund and take a tax credit on the donation. To help finance energy efficiency projects, HB 2181 would give municipal and county governments bonding authority, enabling participating homeowners to pay for energy efficiency upgrades over time. SB 201 would authorize the creation of an “Energy Matchmakers” fund in the Department of Housing & Community Services. Relying in part on federal and private sector investments, the fund would be used to make houses of low-income families more energy efficient.
Finally, to help meet the Governor’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity use for state government, SB 168 would clarify the authority to develop renewable energy projects in state buildings or on state lands.