By Denis C. Theriault
Oregon's most consequential energy bill in decades -- a nationally ambitious plan to wean the state off coal and boost renewable sources -- has become law.
Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1547 on Tuesday, handing Democrats a coveted political victory that comes despite lingering concerns the legislation might raise costs for utility customers. Brown's office announced the signature in a statement Thursday.
The measure requires Oregon's two largest utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, to stop paying for out-of-state coal power by 2030. It also says utilities must serve half their customers' demand with renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2040.
It emerged earlier this year after negotiations between environmental advocates and utility officials. The two sides said they worked to head off a ballot measure this fall that utilities worried would be far more aggressive.
"Knowing how important it is to Oregonians to act on climate change, a wide range of stakeholders came to the table around Oregonians' investments in coal and renewable energy," Brown said in a statement. "I'm proud to sign a bill that moves Oregon forward, together with the shared values of current and future generations."
Though it won bipartisan support in the Oregon House, the measure was a top target for Senate Republicans. They waged a slowdown for much of the short session, including a walkout and refusals to work nights and weekends, in hopes of killing the plan.
Democrats turned to parliamentary maneuvers and late amendments to save it, and it passed March 2, the second to last day before lawmakers adjourned for the year.
(c)2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)