June 18, 2008

Oregon Governor Outlines Energy Efficiency Plan

By Libby Tucker

Gov. Ted Kulongoski yesterday outlined his policy proposals for boosting energy efficiency, which he says will be the center of his climate change agenda in the 2009 Oregon Legislature.

Topping the list of proposals is a goal for all new residential and commercial buildings to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The state will also consider requiring homes sold in Oregon to receive an energy performance certificate, a standard for measuring a home's energy use that Kulongoski likened to calculating gas mileage in cars.

Underlying the policies would be a new public awareness campaign to help Oregonians save energy in their everyday lives.

"Energy efficiency and conservation must be the centerpiece of our climate change agenda," said Kulongoski, speaking at a Northwest Environmental Business Council climate change conference in Portland on Tuesday. "It's the only way we'll succeed" in meeting the state's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, he said.

Also included in the list of efficiency proposals are an expansion of the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit to help electric utilities and industries complete large-scale efficiency upgrades and an expansion of the State Energy Efficient Design program for public buildings.

Aggressive new programs and building codes will be needed to realize a statewide goal of achieving net-zero emissions for new buildings, he said. The state will also need to encourage distributed energy generation, which places solar panels or other renewable energy systems directly where the electricity is used.

"I absolutely support the governor's energy efficiency proposals," Oregon Representative Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland), said. "It's the cheapest and most efficient way to achieve our goals for greenhouse gas emissions."

Kulongoski didn't have any specific ideas for how the state would pay for his energy efficiency proposals. But proceeds from the sale of carbon dioxide emissions allowances under a cap and trade system could cover some of the costs, Dingfelder said.

"There needs to be a better system to pay for energy efficiency measures," Angus Duncan, executive director of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, said.

"Assuming a cap and trade bill passes, a significant amount of allowances will be auctioned," he said. "That (money) should be applied to measures that reduce emissions and the best thing is to reinvest in energy efficiency in a way that preferably involves consumers."

Kulongoski says he'll wait until the Western Climate Initiative releases its regional cap and trade proposal, expected in September, before deciding how state efficiency goals may work with a cap and trade system.

Final policy proposals for the 2009 Legislature will come later this summer when the energy efficiency working group is set to recommend its list to the governor.

Originally published by Libby Tucker.

(c) 2008 Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, OR). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.