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Portland And Multnomah County Commit To All Renewable Energy By 2050

In two separate but near-unanimous votes Thursday, Multnomah County and the City of Portland committed to a goal of meeting all of the county and city's energy needs by renewable power by 2050. 

Portland City Hall

The resolutions have been in the works for many months, so the timing of the votes on the same day President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement was coincidental, but the coincidence was not lost on participants.

"This is a major step forward," Climate Solutions Acting Oregon Director David Van't Hof said in a statement. "Bold climate action is needed to prevent dramatic climate disruption, and we're proud to see Portland and Multnomah County leading the charge. The Northwest can transition to 100% clean energy faster than anywhere else in the country."

The resolutions cover everyone in the city and county, and every sector of the economy, presumably including commercial and residential property, though those sectors of the economy are not mentioned specifically. The overarching goal is for all electricity to come from renewables by 2035, and all energy, including for transportation, to come from renewables by 2050.


The city version covers a lot of ground, including commitments for more energy efficiency, community-based renewable energy, transit expansion, electric buses, and low transit fares and job training for low-income residents who might be affected adversely by the transition to clean power.

The Multnomah County resolution calls for the county to “partner with utilities to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and minimize dependence on fossil fuels.” 

Can the city and county meet such ambitious goals? After the vote, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said implementing the plan would be difficult, though he added that he was glad that it passed.

"In the middle of one of the hardest weeks in the city's history, we were able to do something great," he said, alluding to the stabbing deaths of two men who were defending women against hate speech on a Portland commuter train.

The city and county goals are certainly more ambitious than anything Oregon has called for yet. Under state policy, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power is required to source 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2040. The state also has the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by at least 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.