Majority of Oregonians Want Clean Energy

As state legislatures nationwide are moving forward with bills to kill clean energy standards, Oregonians are hopeful that their elected officials will do the right thing and vote for new legislation that could actually bring more clean energy jobs to local communities. A new poll in Oregon shows that 71 percent of the state’s voters support legislation to transition the state from coal to clean energy.

The coal to clean energy legislation in Oregon’s State House — Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 2729 — will move Oregon’s investor-owned electric utilities Pacific Power and PGE off coal to clean, renewable energy sources by 2025. The bill will ensure the replacement power for coal is 90 percent cleaner, allowing for a replacement mix that is primarily clean, renewable energy like solar and wind, and encourage local clean energy to promote job growth in the region rather than elsewhere whenever possible.

And Oregonians love it — here is a summary of the poll’s key findings:

  • 71 percent of Oregon voters support a legislative proposal to transition the state off coal to clean, renewable energy by 2025. This includes support from a majority of voters from all party affiliations.
  • The proposal’s preference for renewable energy generated in-state to promote job growth receives nearly universal support with 88 percent in favor.
  • By a margin of more than three to one, voters say they would be more likely to support a candidate who favors the legislation.
  • Even if they thought it would increase their utility bills, a strong majority (58 percent) of voters support the proposal.

“Clean energy benefits all Oregonians,” said Representative Tobias Read, HD-27, Co-Chief Sponsor of the Coal to Clean legislation. “It protects our environment and creates good paying jobs, and I hope this moves us in that direction.”

Right now, the state still gets one-third of its energy from coal — and most of that comes from out of state coal plants. This is bad news for local clean energy job growth and for our climate.

“Oregonians recognize that it’s better for our communities to create local solar and wind energy jobs that can support families than it is for us to send our money to out-of-state coal plants,” said Amy Hojnowski, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “A transition from coal to clean energy benefits our climate and our local economy.”

Clean energy is already bringing good jobs and an economic boost to Oregon: It’s brought more than $9 billion of investment to Oregon, and the wind and solar industries combined have created an estimated 5,000 family-wage jobs throughout the state. According to data from the Department of Energy, even a fraction of Oregon’s solar and wind resources could provide electricity to all Oregonians and allow the state to sell excess energy to other states.

So it’s no surprise why Oregonians are all for more of it! “It’s clear that voters would rather put their money towards new clean energy that helps to provide local jobs,” said Hojnowski.

The Sierra Club is proud to support the Coal to Clean legislation, along with the Oregon Conservation Network, Renewable Northwest, Climate Solutions, Oregon Environmental Council, Citizens Utility Board of Oregon, Southern Oregon Climate Action Network, Douglas County Global Warming Coalition, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Environment Oregon, Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Onward Oregon, 350PDX, Rogue Climate, Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress.