Oregon approval of aggressive EV goals overshadowed by climate bill drama

Source: By Robert Walton, Utility Dive • Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019

Oregon lawmakers were able to agree on aggressive electric vehicle goals last week, just days before a Capitol shutdown related to broader climate legislation.

The state’s House Bill 2020 would have required economy-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions — 45% by 2035 and 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 emissions levels. Democrats control the House and Senate.

“HB 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate floor. That will not change,” Senate President Peter Courtney later announced in an attempt to bring Republicans who had left to avoid a vote on HB 2020 back to the Capitol to work on other issues.

Eleven Republicans Senators remain on the run, leaving the 18 Democrats shy of 20 members needed to hold votes.

The EV legislation sparked considerably less controversy, and is now waiting on Gov. Kate Brown, D, to sign it.

“With the passage of Senate Bill 1044, Oregon is helping lead the nation on how to transition to a cleaner, modern transportation system,” Brown said in a statement. “When zero-emission vehicles are widely used and charging stations are easily accessible to all, we can support economic development and the environment at the same time.”

The bill requires the Oregon Department of Energy to develop recommend strategies to the legislature to spur EV adoption, if it determines the state is not on track to meet its goals. And it would allow schools to use an existing funding source — a portion of the public purpose charge on utility bills dedicated to schools — to purchase electric buses and charging stations. The legislation also requires all light-duty vehicles owned or leased by the state of Oregon be EVs by 2029.

The bill has support from Portland General Electric, the city of Portland, Pacific Power, Idaho Power, the Northwest Energy Coalition and other groups.

“We applaud the work of the Legislature in taking a holistic view of creating a cleaner transportation system,” Portland General Electric President and CEO Maria Pope said in a statement. The utility said it helped develop the bill as part of its goal to support economy-wide decarbonization.