The hidden gem of the Coal Transition Bill

If you’ve been following local, national or even global environmental news lately, you’ve read about Oregon’s pioneering bill to transition off of coal-fired power and replace that power with renewable energy. It’s the first time a state has ever taken legislative action to go coal-free, and will make our state home to the fifth most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the country.

But what you may not know about the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill is that it’s also a big win for electric vehicles. In addition to requiring that our state’s two largest utilities transition off of coal-fired power, the law also requires that they propose programs and investments to “accelerate transportation electrification” by the end of this year. These proposals will be vetted by the Oregon Public Utility Commission to ensure they are fair and will do well in the ever-changing marketplace.

Here are five reasons why this hidden gem of the Coal Transition Bill is just that: a gem.

  • Electrify to act on climate: Transportation electrification is a key strategy for reducing climate pollution from cars, trucks, and even construction equipment. By getting utilities into the game, we’re adding a new powerful ally in the effort to expand electric vehicle recharging infrastructure as we continue to decrease our carbon footprint.
  • EV’s improve local air quality: This is a concern that has been at the top of mind for many following the disturbing news that two local glass manufacturers have been spewing toxic pollution into the air, unbeknownst to local community members. Unlike traditional fossil fuel vehicles, EV’s have zero tailpipe pollution, making them a great option for keeping Oregon’s air clean. When you consider that Multnomah County has one of the highest rates of diesel pollution in the nation (resulting in an estimated 460 premature deaths per year), you can see why transportation electrification is urgently needed.
  • It isn’t just small EV’s, either: The bill is also about transportation electrification – that means delivery vans, the electrification of truck stops (to prevent idling), port electrification, electric transit buses and more.
  • EVs are good for Oregon’s economy: As if clean air weren’t reason enough, investing in local electric vehicle infrastructure also keeps energy dollars in the state. EV drivers spend less on fuel and maintenance, making more dollars available to spend in the local economy. Installing charging stations creates local jobs. And Oregon manufactures electric vehicles (Brammo in Ashland makes electric motorcycles). Oregon’s EV industry has already generated over $260 million in economic activity.
  • The future is here, now: We’re already seeing more EV’s on the market than ever before. Nearly every major car manufacturer has at least one EV model. Last year over 15 new EV models were introduced and more are coming – Chrysler even just released their first hybrid minivan, boasting over 80 MPG! Electric vehicles can be charged in your garage overnight using a standard wall outlet or at-home chargers can be installed by an electrician. There’s no better time than now to think about getting an EV; check out this post on green cars from our very own Jen Coleman to try out several calculators that help pair you with the right EV for your lifestyle.

Getting off of coal and doubling renewables is a huge accomplishment. Greening our transportation choices is essential too. The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill accomplishes both and is good news for Oregon. Best of all, by creating a clean energy future, we know we’re protecting the Oregon we love to call home.

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