Oregon became the first US state to pass a law that will completely phase out coal power by 2035. The state also set a goal to more than double renewable energy output by 2040.
As part of the law, the two largest utilities in the state must transform their total energy output profile to more than half clean energy by 2040. Completely replacing coal will be a difficult process since coal provides over a third of the states energy currently. [New Generation of Solar Cells At One Fifth The Cost]
Environmental and climate activists cheered the legislation as a landmark moment and hoped that other states will follow the example that Oregon has set.
“This historic step forward is the most significant legislative action the US has taken since the Paris climate agreement,” said Michael Brune, an outspoken critic of coal power and executive director at the Sierra Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to the environment and conservation.
Surprisingly, the legislation won’t affect prices as much as one may think. Pacific Power, a large utility company in Oregon, said the shift would raise costs by less than 1% a year until 2030, yet would reduce carbon pollution by 30 million metric tons.
“Working through the legislative process with a diverse range of stakeholders, we have meaningfully advanced Oregon’s clean energy future in a way that is both workable and affordable,” said Scott Bolton at Pacific Power.
The new law builds on previous legislation in Oregon that promised to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, from 2005 levels. It’s the first legislation of its kind in the United States and a welcomed triumph for environmentalists who were disappointed about the temporary block placed by the supreme court on the Obama administration’s clean power plan.
Although a positive step forward, the United States is far behind the curve in phasing out coal-fired power. The UK has set a goal to completely eliminate coal power within 10 years, and China recently banned new coal projects for the next 3 years.