Vestas decision is key to Oregon's clean-energy economy

Vestas’ decision to remain in Portland is a boost to the state’s burgeoning green economy.

The announcement is a relief for economic development officials and investors who have been striving to retain Oregon’s prominence in the clean energy sector. It also provides much-needed momentum to business leaders campaigning to revive policies aimed at developing sustainable industries.

Vestas first announced plans to build a headquarters building — at that time speculation pointed to the South Waterfront district — in 2008, shortly after Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced an ambitious "climate change" agenda. Kulongoski's agenda included support for a regional carbon cap-and-trade program and an expansion of the Business Energy Tax Credit program, which gave tax breaks to stimulate investment in renewable energy and conservation.

Today, regional cap and trade is far from reality. Lawmakers, concerned about declining revenue and inadequate controls on the BETC program, dramatically scaled back funding for the program earlier this year.

Against that backdrop, Vestas’ decision to stay was a hard-won, critical victory for renewable-energy advocates.

"It cements the perception and reality of Portland as the capital of sustainable energy in the U.S.," said Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who as former Mayor Vera Katz’s chief of staff helped recruit the company to Portland from California in 2002.

State Rep. Jules Kopel Bailey, a Portland Democrat who represents the 42nd district, said the state can build on Vestas’ decision.

"It signals that Oregon is a good place to do business and that the clean energy economy is going to be a major part of the backbone of our economic recovery," Bailey said. "The critical question is what policies can we put in place for the future."

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