Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Monday emphasized his support of an ambitious, potentially controversial bill aimed at increasing electric utilities’ use of renewable energy.
At a briefing with reporters, Kulongoski extolled the virtues of Senate Bill 373, which would direct utilities to account for 25 percent of their electricity sales with renewable energy by 2025.
His praise, which preceded today’s initial hearings on the bill, was designed to build support for a proposal that could spark considerable opposition from business interests and some utilities.
Critics say the bill would impose unnecessary mandates on utilities and could drive up rates for consumers.
Kulongoski considers SB 373, known formally as the Oregon Renewable Energy Act, the centerpiece of his energy agenda. He said the requirements, among the most comprehensive in the country, would help make Oregon a leader in the development of wind, solar, geothermal and wave power.
“It’s one of the principle pieces of legislation we have to get passed this session,” Kulongoski said during the Monday morning briefing in his ceremonial office at the Capitol.
Interim requirements set the renewable energy standard at 5 percent by 2010, 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.
Hearings begin at 3 p.m. today before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Hearing Room B.
“It’s the single best tool for Oregon to take control of our energy future and to move us toward energy independence,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Brad Avakian, D-Bethany, who joined Kulongoski at the briefing.
By Gail Kinsey Hill
6 March 2007
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