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BPS legislative priorities signed into law

Earlier this month the Oregon legislature wrapped up its 2016 session. Three big priorities for BPS made it through both houses and have been signed into law:

  1. Renewable electricity
  2. Community solar
  3. Inclusionary zoning (IZ)

Last week Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act

The new Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act is a huge step toward achieving the goals of the Climate Action Plan, putting PGE and Pacific Power on track to meet the electricity supply targets for our 2030 and 2050 carbon-reduction goals. Under the new law, utilities will phase out coal-fired electricity to serve Oregon customers by 2035 and increase the share of new renewable resources like wind, solar and geothermal to 50 percent by 2040. (Currently, PGE and Pacific must achieve 25 percent new renewables by 2025.) 

The statute also directs the utilities to allow community solar programs, giving customers a way to participate in the ownership of off-site solar projects and receive credit on their electricity bill. The law also specifies that at least 10 percent of the overall community solar program capacity be provided to low-income customers.

The community solar provisions are especially exciting for BPS, which has been pushing for better community solar options for years and specifically for attention to how solar connects to low-income residents.

SB 1533 allows local mandatory Inclusionary zoning programs for buildings with 20 or more units

Governor Brown also signed SB 1533, which lifts the state preemption of the ability of Portland and other cities to have a mandatory inclusionary zoning program. Under mandatory inclusionary zoning (IZ), new residential development is required to include a certain number of affordable units.

The Portland Housing Bureau and Commissioner Saltzman’s office will be leading a public process to design the IZ program.  BPS will work closely with them and with a consultant team that will be doing the research and analysis necessary to design a workable program.  The program will require changes to the zoning code and these changes will be the responsibility of BPS. The development of the IZ code and administrative rules is likely an 18-month process.

Together, these three achievements made this legislative session one of the most significant in years and gives us new tools and new opportunities to do our work.