A Portland-based free-market think tank says city government and the state of Oregon haven’t met ambitious targets on using renewable energy and attributes the failures to setting goals that were “unrealistic from the start and the reality of fiscal responsibility settling in.”
In 2001, Portland set a goal of obtaining all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. In 2005, the state government set a goal of getting 25 percent of its power from renewables by 2005, then in 2007 ratcheted that figure up to 100 percent. According to a Cascade Policy Institute paper, however, “both entities have failed miserably.” Authors Torey Holderith and Todd Wynn say Portland’s government is now getting 9 percent of its power from renewables, while the state is mired around 1 to 2 percent.
In an Oregonian story, the state and city acknowledged falling short, and conceded that it was indeed largely a matter of economics. “It comes down to the ability to afford it,” David Tooze, an energy specialist with Portland’s planning and sustainability bureau, told the Oregonian. “These are difficult budget times, for the city and for families.”
While the city and state say the failure to reach the targets doesn’t mean they should stop trying, the Cascade report authors take precisely the opposite view. They say the renewable goals for the governments, as well as a renewable portfolio standard for utilities – requiring 25 percent renewables by 2025 – limit consumer choice, push rates higher and stymie economic growth.
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