Portland, Oregon- A coalition of over 140 businesses, mayors, city councilors, and county commissioners called on state legislators Tuesday morning to support pro-solar legislation this session that supporters say would increase the amount of solar energy Oregon gets by ten-fold in the next decade. The coalition, announced at a press conference on the “green roof” of solar company SolTerra Systems, includes notable businesses Tofurky and Keen, as well as the mayors of Bend, Newport, Corvallis, Hood River, Yachats, Toledo City, and Eugene.
Speakers at the press conference, which included representatives from Environment Oregon, Hawthorne Auto Clinic, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, and SolTerra Systems pointed out some of the many economic benefits and community benefits of solar.
Hacienda CDC, a non-profit that provides affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement and educational opportunities has recently installed solar panels on a futsal court adjacent to a community clinic. Victor Merced, Executive Director of Hacienda, said, “We have already seen our solar energy installation reap benefits for our community. We plan to utilize the installation as a teaching moment for local youth and adults. The more our community learns about energy alternatives, the stronger our efforts will be in bringing low income residents and people of color to advocate for greener communities.”
Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic added, "We installed our roof-top PV solar panels in 2008, just as the Great Recession was impacting so many small businesses, including our own. Fortunately for us our new solar panels cut our electric bill by 35%, one of the more significant cost saving measures that enabled us to retain all our staff until the economy improved."
According to Environment Oregon, the group that organized the press conference, four bills currently pending in the legislature (HB 2447, HB 2632, HB 2745, and HB 2941) would bring 10 times more solar to Oregon in the next decade, the equivalent of 250,000 solar rooftops or removing 730,000 cars from the road.
“If we’re serious about doing reducing our dependence on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, there’s no question: we have to tap into the power of the sun,” said Charlie Fisher, clean energy advocate with Environment Oregon.