What You Need to Know about Oregon’s push for Clean Energy Jobs

Since 2007 the Oregon Legislature has been trying to address climate issues by passing laws that mandated renewable energy and carbon reduction. All these bills aimed at climate change promised job creation. So how many jobs have all these bills created? No one seems to know. The only official state report documented fewer than 100.

In 2007, the Oregon Legislature passed the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)requiring Oregon utilities to produce at least 25% from renewable sources by 2025. (Technically, Oregon was already meeting that standard because a majority of Oregon’s electricity was coming from hydropower. However, the RPS bill, SB 838, excluded energy from hydropower dams that were built before 1995.) 

In news coverage, lawmakers touted SB 838 as a “jobs bill:’

“[The Oregon Renewable Energy Act] will encourage the growth of a new industry in Oregon providing new jobs in rural Oregon,” said Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Grants Pass), the bill’s co-sponsor. Upon its passage, Governor Ted Kulongoski hailed the Act as “the most significant environmental legislation ... in more than 30 years that will stimulate billions of dollars in investment - creating hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in both urban and rural Oregon.”

So, were “hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs” created? Section 25 of SB 838 is titled “Job Impact Study.” It required the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) to do a study on how many jobs were created within the first two years and then periodically after that.