The Oregon House passed an aggressive renewable electricity supply standard that requires the biggest utilities in the state to get 25 percent of their capacity from renewables (not including existing hydro) by 2025. The state Senate already passed the companion bill, and the Oregon governor, Ted Kulongoski, has been pushing these all year, so they are widely expected to pass after the two bills are reconciled into one.

But …

The downside to these bills are that the "25 percent by ’25" target is reduced for smaller electric providers, the rural electric coops that tend to get all their power from Bonneville dams on the Columbia, with maybe a little landfill methane thrown in.

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In other words, because these coops have become 100 percent dependent on heavily subsidized federal power for so long, we shouldn’t ask them to get with the program and invest in the next generation of renewables. It’s kinda of a classic 21st century American thing — "I’m living off investments made by people who were really struggling, and I don’t plan to invest a dime in helping my kids."

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This bill is really a sweet deal for the rural areas:

They get all the benefits of the investments that others made when the dams were built (with money from all of us taxpayers) in the 1930s, and they will be first in line to benefit from the required investments in geothermal and wind, but they won’t have to meet the same targets that the urbanized areas will.

The rural areas in Oregon are also the ones most at risk and have the most to lose from global heating causing drought, and from warmer winters reducing the snowpack (which is what powers the dams that make their electricity in the summer).

So ‘splain to me why should they not be in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to supporting new renewables?

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