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United States

Oregon governor's ambitious plans for renewables

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All electricity used by Oregon state agencies will come from renewables by 2010 if Governor Ted Kulongoski's ambitious new plan comes to pass. "From the research we've done we believe we'd be the first state to accomplish this goal," says Anna Richter Taylor of the Oregon governor's office. "A lot of states have taken incremental steps, but we don't believe there's another state that will reach 100% by the end of the decade." Kulongoski had previously set targets of 25% for 2010 and 100% for 2025, but decided on accelerating the plan to set an example and help create jobs. "Aggressive state government involvement in renewables is somewhat of a new development," says James Critchfield of the US Environmental Protection Agency. "We don't have a comprehensive program where we measure that data but it would certainly be accurate to say that it's a growing area." About 1% of electricity used by Oregon state agencies comes from renewables today and roughly half the region's overall electricity comes from hydropower, which environmentalists say threaten the Northwest salmon population. Kulongoski suggests the state could buy and develop wind farms, or contract with private companies to develop wind power as a main avenue toward reaching his renewables goal. "This is something that's within the governor's purview," says Rachel Shimshak of the Renewable Northwest Project, a non-profit advocacy group. "He can't necessarily tell utilities what to do but he can certainly tell state offices what to do regarding where they get their electricity." Although no specifics on investment or ways to meet the goal have yet been announced, Kulongoski is expecting an 11-member Sustainability Board, along with two state agencies, to develop specific plans by summer for reaching the mark.

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