Oregon gets most of its power from hydro, but coal is the second largest source at about 33%. The Boardman Coal Plant is the only one in the state, and is slated to close in 2020, but that didn't mean we wouldn't import coal-generated power from out of state.
The NRDC writes (in an email):
The Oregon Legislature just voted today to eliminate coal generation [and ban its import, after 2030] from the state's future and committed its largest utilities to supply at least half of their electricity from renewable resources by 2040. Combined with Oregon's existing hydroelectric base, that means the state will be on track for an electricity system that's 70 to 90 percent carbon-free by that date. The legislation will make Oregon's energy among the cleanest in the country, and puts the state in the growing top tier of renewable energy standards, along with California, New York and Hawaii.More at the NRDC's blog.
The bill, The Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act, was
They especially hammered about the PUC after emails from a FOIA showed the PUC board not very happy about being shut out of the discussion. My view is that while the PUC certainly has energy expertise, (1) it's up to the governor, an elected official, to decide whom she wants creating a long-term energy plan she wants and supports, and (2) the PUC's job is to regulate existing tariffs with the utilities, not to determine long-term energy policy. Because that policy involves more than just keeping rates as low as possible -- it requires eliminating negative externalities, and coal has a truckload of them. Those externalities don't show up on consumer's monthly bills, but they cost money in health costs and premature deaths and environmental damage. (Here's a nice summary sheet from the EPA on the projected savings from Obama's Clean Action Plan -- "public health and climate benefits estimated at $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030, far outweighing the costs of $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion" -- and see this post I wrote the other day.
The Oregon's Editorial Board only saw costs, and not savings, and I think their opposition leaked into how their journalists covered this issue.
I would have liked more transparency from the negotiating groups, but passing significant legislation is never pretty, hence the analogy to making sausage. (Irrelveant side note: I once made sausage as kid, after my dad and a few other guys killed a pig behind someone's garage. They didn't let me see the killing, but I did spend the rest of the evening cranking a sausage grinding machine. Crafting legislation is probably less memorable.) Someone always complains they are left out, especially the people who don't like the principles and vision behind the bill is trying to promote. Has any significant bill not been muscled through the political process while the other side whines about it? Doubtful.