Business leaders push legislative agenda in Salem

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2013
Monday, December 10, 2012

Energy: Conserving the future

0113 TheRushOnSalem 04Business leaders are taking the lead on education, health-care and revenue reform, but the community is less unified when it comes to energy planning, a policy arena likely to be dominated by Kitzhaber’s ambitious 10-year energy plan, which was to be finalized in December. The plan should boost momentum around clean energy and efficiency legislation, says John Audley, deputy director of the Renewable Northwest Project. “It should be a pretty interesting year for renewable-energy policy,” he says.

Mark Nelson, a veteran Salem lobbyist who represents large electrical users, such as food processors and timber companies, doesn’t quite see it that way. The energy plan is “something all businesses should be tremendously concerned about,” says Nelson, who predicts an increase in electrical rates should some of the proposals go through.

Critics and admirers alike say that one of the contentious issues this session involves lifting the 2015 expiration date on the state’s low-carbon fuel standard, which was passed in 2009 and mandates a 10% carbon reduction in Oregon fuels over the next decade. “There will be a big battle,” says Paul Romain, a Portland lobbyist who represents the Oregon Petroleum Association and supports letting the standard expire. Environmental organizations and biofuels companies such as ZeaChem, a Colorado company that operates a cellulose-based biorefinery facility in Boardman, advocate lifting the sunset on the standard.

Putting in place policy mechanisms that encourage use of alternative fuels is one of Kitzhaber’s top priorities. Another is meeting the bulk of the state’s new electrical load through efficiency and conservation measures. The Oregon Business Plan does have an energy strategy, and one of the plan’s action items is accelerating efficiency. Nevertheless, as businesses seek to refine the 10-year plan, a debate will inevitably spring up around costs, including funding mechanisms for new efficiency programs, the impact on electricity rates, and the role of utilities in meeting more aggressive efficiency goals.

0113 TheRushOnSalem 05Some renewable-power industry advocates also expressed concern that the focus on conservation will leave them out in the cold, especially since the industry is already reeling from cutbacks to the state’s business energy tax credit. “We are looking for some actions that will support the renewable sector, in which the state had become a leader,” says Robert Grott, executive director of the Northwest Environmental Business Council.

If incentives for large projects remain uncertain, the discussion around small renewable systems is “ripening,” according to Audley. To that end, Audley says he expects legislators to consider expanding the state’s feed-in tariff pilot program, in which utilities pay homeowners a fixed rate for the solar power they produce.

As these energy issues unfold, business leaders are also pushing for solutions that address water resources and balance the demands of agriculture, municipalities and sustainable fisheries. On the OBA agenda is a proposal for wintertime withdrawal of Columbia River water for underground storage to irrigate farms during the growing season.



 

More Articles

The week journalism died

Linda Baker
Sunday, February 15, 2015
deadjournalismthumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

Uncertainty about convention center hotel could cost Portland an NBA All-Star Game

The Latest
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
463545460BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

NBA commissioner: "I would love to end up having an All-Star Game in Portland. It's really just a function of ensuring that we can fit in town."


Read more...

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

ZoomCare rolls out new on-demand health clinics

News
Monday, March 02, 2015
zoomcarethumbBY KIM MOORE |  OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.


Read more...

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS