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New Report: Oregon Should Tap into its Vast Solar Energy Potential

Representatives from Renewable Northwest Project, Oregonians for Renewable Energy Policy, Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association, and Solar Oregon joined Environment Oregon and Rep. Bailey for the report’s release, and echoed their support for a strong solar agenda.

BY: Sarah Higginbotham

Environment Oregon

 
Monday, July 23, 2012 
 
Today Environment Oregon was joined by clean energy advocates and representatives from the solar industry, who called for Oregon leaders to go further and faster with policy that will spur solar energy development and consumer access.

Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center’s new report, released in a press conference on the eco-rooftop of start-up company Solterra Systems, reveals solar power can supply 10% of Oregon’s electricity by 2025, while protecting the environment and creating jobs.

“Even in the cloudy Willamette Valley, the sun still shines far more in a year than it does in Germany, which has the world’s largest solar market,” Sarah Higginbotham, State Director at Environment Oregon said. “We have to put policies in place to accelerate the growth of the solar energy market that will allow Oregon to start reaping these benefits immediately.”

State Representative Jules Bailey (District 42) answered the call for strong leadership at this morning’s press conference in his district, announcing his plan to introduce legislation that will make it easier for consumers and businesses to benefit from solar.

“We’re here on this fantastic green roof, but I look around me at other buildings and see too many empty rooftops,” Rep. Bailey said. “I look forward to partnering with the organizations here today to move Oregon’s clean energy future forward.”

Representatives from Renewable Northwest Project, Oregonians for Renewable Energy Policy, Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association, and Solar Oregon joined Environment Oregon and Rep. Bailey for the report’s release, and echoed their support for a strong solar agenda.

The new report comes on the heels of Governor Kitzhaber’s recently released draft of his 10-Year Energy Plan, which is well-aimed at putting Oregon on a path toward cleaner energy solutions. Solar energy, Higginbotham noted, is a clear area where Oregon can make greater progress toward its sustainability goals.
 
“Rep. Bailey’s announcement today is exactly the type of leadership we’ll need to make meaningful progress, tap into Oregon’s great solar potential and build on the Governor’s energy plan,” Higginbotham said.  

The new report, Solar Works for Oregon: The Vast Potential for Solar Power to Protect our Environment and Create Jobs, reveals that Oregon could feasibly develop enough electricity from rooftop solar in the next 13 years to power 250,000 typical Oregon homes—or all the homes in Portland. In addition to 2.5 GW of utility scale solar, the report also recommends the installation of solar water heating systems to meet the needs of more than 150,000 Oregon households.

Despite this potential, Oregon remains far behind states leading on solar. New Jersey and California produce about five times as many watts per resident as Oregon. This is in large part, Higginbotham said, due to the policies these states have put into place to accelerate the market for solar power.

“Our report outlines a suite of policy options that are on the table today that can move Oregon forward on homegrown solar energy, and in doing so make real progress towards reducing climate pollution and creating jobs.”
 
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