11 April 2017

Portland to go 100% renewable by 2050

The city of Portland and the entire Multnomah County have committed to transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2050.

Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury made the announcement of the area’s renewable energy commitment on Monday 10 April at the June Key Delta Community Center in North Portland – a former gas station turned green building project.

Under the plans, all electricity needs will be generated from renewable sources by 2035 – with the use of fossil fuels for heating, transportation, and other sectors be phased out by 2050.

Wheeler acknowledged the challenges associated with the goal but stressed that with deliberate policy changes and investments the target is achievable.

Portland was the first U.S. city to adopt a carbon reduction strategy back in 1993.

Portland now joins 25 other cities in the U.S. that have committed to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs in Louisiana will transition to 100 per cent renewable energy following respective city council votes on Tuesday 21 March.

In order to meet the target, utilities like the Portland General Electric (PGE) will have to move away from coal and other fossil fuels – PGE’s coal-fired plant in Boardman is expected to close by 2020.

Dave Robertson, Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Resiliency at PGE, confirmed that the utility is working with the city and county.

In a statement he said: "If our resource strategy is approved by regulators, we will add significant amounts of renewable energy to surpass our 2025 renewable energy target more than five years early and at a reduced cost to our customers.”

He went on to say: “The addition of these new renewable resources, combined with our existing wind, solar and hydroelectric facilities, will enable PGE to generate more than 50 per cent of our energy from carbon-free sources by 2020."

Portland also plans to introduce a new electric vehicle (EV) strategy to encourage consumers to opt for less polluting vehicles.

This is part of the city’s wider sustainability plan which will also see the Portland Building, home to more than 1,000 city employees, renovated to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold status and reduce energy use by 20 per cent.

The new Multnomah County Courthouse and Health Department – currently under construction –will also be LEED Gold certified and capable of operating with 40 to 50 per cent less energy than its counterparts.

The news follows the announcement that over 900 municipal buildings in Chicago will transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, under new mayoral plan.

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