Dear Co-op Community Members:
In the Oregon Legislature’s 2018 Short Session, Lane Electric joins Oregon’s 17 electric co-ops in advocating for a cap-and-trade bill that addresses both carbon and affordability. The ORECA position statement is reproduced below.
Matt Michel, General Manager
Statement of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative on Association Cap-and-Trade Legislation: HB 4001 and SB 1507
For the last few months, ORECA has worked collaboratively with the Clean Energy Jobs Utilities and Transportation work group to address our initial concerns with SB 1070, particularly with respect to the ability of electric cooperatives to comply as regulated entities under a state cap-and-trade program. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Sen. Dembrow and Rep. Helm to work constructively with us to improve the legislation.
However, we cannot support HB 4001 and SB 1507 until the state of Oregon recognizes their current environmental policies are not only inconsistent with the proposed cap-and-trade legislation, they are punitive for rural Oregonians.
ORECA members buy their power from the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets the power produced at federal dams. The state of Oregon continues to aggressively pursue policies and operations that significantly reduce hydropower generation at the federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. Spilling water at these dams has far-reaching ramifications for electric cooperatives and the environment that the state of Oregon refuses to acknowledge. For example, increased spring spill is estimated to cost $40 million to consumers, will increase carbon emissions by approximately 840,000 metric tons a year and has unintended consequences for migrating juvenile and adult salmon. It is clear the state of Oregon will not be able to meet its carbon goals if federal hydropower continues to be devalued. Unfortunately—despite our best efforts—the state of Oregon has been unwilling to find any common ground with respect to the operation of the federal dams.
While we also appreciate the sponsor’s sincere interest in developing a carbon proposal that invests in rural Oregon, we have many unanswered questions about how the cap-andtrade policy will impact electric utility rates, transportation costs and jobs in rural Oregon and “frontier” Oregon areas such as Harney County. These questions require significant examination that the short session cannot provide. Nevertheless, ORECA and Oregon’s electric co-ops stand ready to work with the Oregon Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown on these issues, including opportunities to reduce carbon through the electrification of the transportation sector using carbon-free hydropower.