By Rachel Leber
PORTLAND, Ore. — The city of Portland in conjunction with Multnomah County made an announcement on April 10 of their commitment to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources by the year 2050. The announcement was made by Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland and Deborah Kafoury, county chair of Multnomah County at the June Key Delta Community Center in Portland.
Portland’s commitment includes a plan to shift all electricity needs to renewable energy sources by 2035, with the complete phasing out of all fossil fuels for heating, transportation and other areas by 2050. As the first U.S. city to adopt a carbon reduction strategy in 1993, the city feels optimistic about its plan. Wheeler acknowledged during his announcement that this timeline may prove challenging, but believes it is to be an achievable goal with deliberate investments and policy changes.
One example of the city’s sustainability plan is to renovate the Portland Building — home to more than 1,000 city employees — to achieve LEED Gold status and to reduce the building’s energy use by 20 percent. Portland also plans to introduce a new electric vehicle (EV) strategy to encourage Portland residents to opt for more environmentally-friendly vehicles. Additionally, Portland General Electric (PGE) is beginning the process of moving their services out of the domain of coal and other fossil fuels. Current plans are for PGE’s coal-fired plant in Boardman to close by 2020. Similarly, the new Multnomah County Courthouse and Health Department is slated for LEED Gold certification, and once complete will operate with 40 to 50 percent less energy output.
“If our resource strategy is approved by regulators, we will add significant amounts of renewable energy to surpass our 2025 renewable energy target more than five years early and at a reduced cost to our customers,” said Dave Robertson, vice president of public policy and corporate resiliency at PGE, in a recent statement. “The addition of these new renewable resources, combined with our existing wind, solar and hydroelectric facilities will enable PGE to generate more than 50 percent of our energy from carbon-free sources by 2020.”
Portland’s commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 is just one example of 25 other cities in the U.S. making a similar commitment, according to a recent statement.