Renewable Energy

Since the 1960’s, the University of Oregon and other institutions have conducted ambitious experiments with renewable energy. At the time, outside the Willamette Valley "bubble," Oregon was not taken seriously. Power sources like passive or active solar power, or energy-efficient construction technologies like special double-glazed windows, insulation, and reduced energy programs, which reduce energy use overall, were viewed as unrealistic or too expensive by mainstream America. However, Oregon's investment in basic research is paying major dividends today. Skeptics continue to question renewable energy sources and energy-efficient construction, but state and local incentives and programs have ensured renewable energy gains traction. Today, according to research firm Clean Edge, Oregon gets 50.9 percent of its energy from renewable sources, while the U.S. as a whole, as well as the European Union, are still at 9 percent.

Hydroelectric power has long been a major source of power for Oregon, accounting for 45 percent of total power consumption. In 2007, the Oregon legislature passed a law requiring utilities to get an additional 25 percent of Oregon's power from renewable solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources by 2025. By 2014, Oregon had 1,837 wind turbines and 3,153 mega-watts of capacity. Oregon now ranks sixth in the nation in terms of the number of utility-scale wind turbines and fifth in terms of capacity among U.S. states. A number of utility-scale solar power facilities have also been created in recent years, and more are in development.

In Portland, we use our increasingly renewable energy wisely. By reducing energy consumption locally, we enable our power companies to export electric power to regions that lack energy resources.