State Legislative Priorities for Co-Op Members

CEO Dave MarkhamThe 81st Oregon Legislative Assembly is underway. Significant bill proposals could financially affect Central Electric Cooperative and the state’s consumer-owned utilities. We will try to work effectively within the legislative process to educate and serve as a solution-oriented leader to provide safe, reliable and affordable service to our members.

Wildfire Mitigation Plans

Senate Bill 287 takes an essential step toward protecting Oregonians against catastrophic wildfires. The legislation’s primary provision requires electric utilities to file a wildfire mitigation plan with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. CEC believes developing a thorough plan and submitting it to OPUC is prudent and responsible.

Last year, we updated and formalized our existing plan, which will undergo a biennial internal review and revision accordingly. CEC also participated in OPUC’s wildfire workshops to highlight ongoing challenges and the wildfire assessment tools CEC deploys to mitigate wildfire risk.

Clean Fuels Program

House Bill 2188 would undermine local control by imposing a 20% transfer of consumer-owned utilities’ energy credit dollars from the state’s Clean Fuels Program to its Public Purpose Fund, where it would be spent in metropolitan areas to promote transportation electrification.

The Clean Fuels Program requires regulated entities’ fuel sources to comply with an annual average carbon intensity. If they meet or come under the average, the utility receives credits with a financial value.

A consumer-owned utility such as CEC may participate. Since the co-op relies almost 100% on carbon-free hydropower from the federal Columbia River power system, CEC generates credits, which may be sold to private parties looking to offset their carbon-intense energy portfolio. However, the entirety of the financial proceeds should remain

in CEC’s service territory to promote transportation electrification and not be redistributed to urban areas at rural communities’ expense.

100% Clean Energy

Environmental and special interest groups are pursuing a 100% clean energy goal by 2050. Proposals in circulation lack specifics. One aims for 100% by 2035 and defers to state agencies to define renewables. The other calls for 100% by 2045.

The paramount concern for consumer owned utilities is how the bills will treat hydropower. CEC can claim an almost 100% carbon emission-free energy portfolio due to this resource.

Yet Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard only considers hydropower renewable under limited circumstances. If the 100% clean energy proposals do the same, CEC would be significantly disadvantaged and out of compliance, forcing us to buy more expensive alternative renewables, such as wind or solar. As these legislative proposals evolve, they must recognize hydropower as a carbon-free and critical resource to reach a 100% clean energy future.

You Can Help

We need your help as the legislative year unfolds. I urge you to join the ORECAAction Network, where we will keep you informed and may occasionally call on you when decision-makers need to hear your voice. Sign up at www.oreca-action.org.

Working together, we can best protect your interests as a co-op member.

President and CEO Dave Markham