Guest column: Oregon’s clean energy bill provides benefits across many sectors

By Diane Hodiak

If passed in the 2018 Legislature, the Clean Energy Jobs bill will bring a windfall to Oregon. It’s a step forward in creating revenues (about $700 million yearly) that could be put to good use in creating jobs in clean energy and fixing our failing infrastructure. This bill has significant support from many sectors: 840 businesses, over 12,000 individuals and hundreds of nonprofits.

Cap-and-invest bills like the Clean Energy Jobs bill have significant benefits across many sectors, including building owners, manufacturing, low-to-moderate income communities, homeowners, government and many more. This is why nine Northeast states have re-authorized their bills after showing significant success in prior years.

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Here are some of their success stories that could be replicated in Oregon:


• Maine’s Home Energy Savings Program supports energy efficiency upgrades like weatherization and heating system improvements. In 2014 alone, rebates on energy-saving measures helped 6,400 residents save over $47 million in lifetime energy costs,

• Maine accomplished cost savings and reduced environmental impacts. Telecommunications company Oxford Networks reduced its energy use by installing modern, efficient equipment. These upgrades will reduce the company’s energy costs by $3,000 to $5,000 per year.

• In 2015, Efficiency Maine invested nearly $60 million in efficiency projects, leading to savings for homes and businesses of $30 million on their annual electric bills while reducing energy use by the equivalent of 26 million gallons of oil.

Note: The Clean Energy Jobs bill also has provisions for utility bill rebates for impacted communities.


• Swampscott and Wenham installed energy-efficient street lighting, reducing electricity costs by more than $100,000 per year and cutting as much yearly carbon as 28,000 gallons of gasoline.


• California’s cap-and-trade bill creates jobs and boosts manufacturing. The state recently approved a $1 billion program to bring rooftop solar to 150,000 low-income renters at more than 2,000 multifamily affordable rental properties over the next decade. Using proceeds from the state’s cap-and-invest program, landlords can apply for incentives to help them install solar panels on apartment buildings where low-income residents live. A majority of the cost savings from the solar electricity will go to tenants through credits on utility bills.

• California’s manufacturing sector grew after its prior period of decline. In Burlingame and city of Industry, the CA Electric bus manufacturer, Proterra, moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley in 2015 because it determined that the state could become its biggest market in the wake of California’s cap-and-trade legislation. Proterra expanded with a new $20 million factory near Los Angeles in 2017, designed to produce 400 buses per year and employ 100 assembly workers. Proterra’s CEO credits California’s cap-and-invest program with providing “regulatory certainty and consistent commitment to business and consumers in California.”

Even polluters may find benefit. Many are already pricing carbon in their business plans. By putting a stable price on carbon, they have security. Even better, they have a choice whether to buy a permit or convert to cleaner fuel. Choice is a benefit available to everyone from the cap-and-invest, Clean Energy Jobs bill. It is not a tax.

I hope legislators will work together to create these opportunities for Oregon. They can do that by voting yes on the bill. We can’t afford to let polluters go free, while making taxpayers pick up the tab. Polluters continue to threaten our environment, our health, and put our recreational businesses at risk.

(Information from California Air Resources Board, Climate Solutions, and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.)

— Diane Hodiak is the executive director of 350 Deschutes, a nonprofit addressing climate change policy, action and education.

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