Salem 2013: Another blow to coal?

The Citizens Utility Board's Bob Jenks says Senate Bill 242 will limit the amount of coal-generated electricity in the state.

Climate Solutions' Ann Gravatt says Senate Bill 242 will limit the amount of coal-generated electricity in the state.

On what’s already been a big day for coal opponents, the Oregon House has provided even more reason to celebration.

The House passed Senate Bill 242, a measure that reaffirms a 2009 policy aiming to reduce the amount of coal used in Oregon’s power supply. The bill passed by a 44-15 vote and now goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his expected signature.

Such groups as the Oregon Citizens Utility Board and Climate Solutions praised the vote, which effectively upholds an emissions performance standard called for four years ago. The standard spells out what electricity generation resources the utilities can and can’t tap.

"It's a significant bill," said Ann Gravatt, Climate Solutions' Oregon director. "We believe a continued investment in coal is one of the largest challenges we face. This reaffirms that Oregon wants to redirect carbon resources to sources from renewable energy."

On the coal front, the Citizens Utility Board said the measure “allows utilities to convert existing coal plants to natural gas plants.”

The state had issues implementing the original bill, according to Bob Jenks, the Board’s executive director.

“The policy assures ratepayers that their utilities will gradually be using less dirty coal and the utilities have greater clarity about how to make that transition,” he said in a release.

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