Oregon electric cooperative leaders will descend upon the state Capitol this month to promote common-sense policies that allow us to provide our members with reliable, affordable and safe electricity. It is the most important day of the entire session for Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association members.
Bashing politicians is a cottage industry, but most who engage in that activity don’t notice how hard most legislators work or how many directions they are pulled each day. We never take our time in the Capitol for granted.
While we will discuss specific legislative proposals, you also can be certain we will talk generally about our clean, renewable hydroelectricity system.
Jeff Merkley, one of Oregon’s U.S. senators, is working on legislation to have 100 percent of the U.S. electricity portfolio be renewable energy by 2050. It is an ambitious goal for most of the country, but I am pleased to report that with a 95 percent emission-free portfolio, we are already close to that target—33 years early.
That is why we are so concerned with the state of Oregon’s troubling and flawed proposal to spill more water over eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers for fish. We believe Oregon’s spill plan will hurt Oregon’s rural economy by raising rates on fixed-income seniors who live in places most Oregonians have never heard of. And the top fish scientists in the country don’t think Oregon’s plan will help fish.
Moreover, to keep the lights on, the lost electrical generation from the dams must be replaced by natural gas—which is counter to the effort to wean Oregon off fossil fuels.
We look forward to collaborating with legislators and our governor to protect both Oregon’s natural resources and fragile rural economy. That’s the Oregon way. It is a goal we should strive for every year.