Solar Oregon’s Comments on the Governor’s Draft 10 Year Energy Plan
Solar Oregon applauds the Governor and all the people who spent countless hours working on the 10-Year Energy Action Plan. We truly appreciate that we live in a state where our elected leaders can exhibit the courage and vision to bring this plan into existence.
While we feel there are numerous positive aspects to the Plan, Solar Oregon would like to encourage more use of all Oregon’s natural, home grown resources, including solar energy.
The State of Oregon consistently ships money across state lines to purchase fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation. With each dollar that leaves the state, the opportunity for jobs and economic development for the citizens of Oregon goes with it. Solar Oregon suggests that the 10-Year Plan place more focus on incorporating solutions that will spur economic development and employment in Oregon.
Oregon has an abundant supply of renewable energy. We are uniquely blessed with our natural resources. Oregon has a long history of using its timber and commercial fishing opportunities to create jobs for tens of thousands of Oregonians and spurring economic development in communities across our state. We ask that the governor continue this legacy by focusing the State’s support on industries that employ Oregonians.
Wind, Solar, Wave, Geothermal, and Biomass are all plentiful resources native to Oregon. We implore Governor Kitzhaber to more strongly focus the 10-Year Plan on the development, support, and growth of these industries, which keeps money in the state to support resources and jobs critical to our State’s prosperity.
Oregon has the ability to harness its natural resources to supply much of the energy needs of the State. Support for these industries will lead to increased job growth, economic development, and tax revenue for the State, which will all help fund vital programs like education, health care, and public safety. In addition, our greenhouse gas emissions will be lowered, while Oregon will become even more of a global leader in the support of clean, local renewable resources.
Below we offer our suggestions to incorporate our most abundant renewable resource solar energy- into all three components of the Governor’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan.
1. Maximizing energy efficiency and conservation to meet 100 percent of new electricity load growth.
We applaud the goal to increase energy efficiency and conservation to offset new load growth.
Solar Oregon encourages consideration of distributed solar energy technologies into the mix with efficiency and conservation projects. Distributed solar generation will reduce the use of fossil fueled electricity generation. In addition, distributed solar employs local Oregonians via installation and maintenance, and often in solar panel production as well.
2. Enhancing clean energy infrastructure development by removing finance and regulatory barriers.
Solar Oregon supports the review and streamlining of many regulatory and siting issues that are highlighted in the 10-Year Energy Plan.
Uniformity of solar policy is essential to the growth and reduction of cost of renewable energy in Oregon, as noted in the plan. Solar Oregon applauds the State for creating the nation’s first statewide solar code in 2010, which outlines a prescriptive path for solar installations. Healthy, uniform solar policy in Oregon will help to:
- Encourage in-state economic development and the creation of jobs
- Enhance the security and reliability of the electric grid
- Reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
- Increase energy independence
Solar Oregon encourages the adoption of a uniform net metering policy which includes an access to annualized net metering statewide, an increase in the existing aggregate cap as well as an increase in the 25 kW capacity of individual systems size for net metered systems in Publically Owned Utility territories.
Solar Oregon recognizes the success of the current Volumetric Incentive Rate (VIR) program to explore and research a production based incentive model that eases burden of helping to offset the cost of solar energy as a new technology on our state’s stretched budget. We encourage further growth of the VIR in the Investor Owned Utility territories and we request that Publically Owned Utilities participate in planning for a statewide production based incentive program.
We would like to see Community Solar included in Oregon’s energy planning, which, if regulated properly, can benefit both consumers and utilities. Many Oregonians cannot currently install solar on their homes due to lack of solar resource, ability to take tax credits or means of financing a system. Community solar will allow these people to invest in their energy future by buying a portion of a larger system located away from their home. Such systems would enable additional residents to participate in solar energy and will allow the utilities to add more renewable power to their energy mix.
The State RPS has a goal that 8% of its electrical generation will be made up of small-scale renewables (<20 MW). We would like to see Oregon become a renewable energy leader by setting an aggressive solar energy goal of 10% of electrical generation by 2025 with 6% set aside for distributed.
We support the Plan’s efforts to remove barriers to renewable energy development. With more consistent regulations throughout the state, utilities, developers, ODOE, consumers, and financiers can more readily navigate the system and increase the amount of renewable energy deployment in Oregon.
3. Accelerating the market transition to a more efficient, cleaner transportation system.
Solar Oregon believes that distributed solar electricity generation can help make the transportation system cleaner and more efficient and should be included in the State’s efforts.
In Oregon, approximately half of electricity generation comes from fossil fuels. By lowering the demand for petroleum, yet increasing the demand for fossil fuel generated electricity, power generation is simply shifted from one fossil fuel source to another.
We encourage the Governor to explore ways in which solar electric charging stations can be incorporated into the transportation system. This could include charging stations for government fleets, as well as private sector fleets.
Unlike fossil fuels imported from other areas, renewable energy generation in Oregon provides jobs and economic development to our communities that are essential for sustainable, long-term growth. Through the use of increased renewable energy deployment, the State can shield itself and its residents from the volatility of fuels that are traded on the global market. Increased renewable energy generation, because of declining fossil-fuel use, leads to better health for Oregonians. Toxic chemicals and particles released by fossil fuel consumption cause significant health problems to Oregon residents, which in turn increases the cost of medical care for the State.
Oregon has a long history of being a global environmental leader and we encourage the Governor to take this opportunity to advance Oregon’s use of its abundant renewable resources.
Thank you for your efforts,
Claire Carlson Executive Director