For Second Time, Portland Commits to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Published June 19, 2017

Portland, Oregon and Multnomah County have pledged to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Portland is the 26th U.S. city to announce a 100 percent renewable-energy mandate, joining St. Petersburg, Florida and Los Angeles, California.

John Charles, Jr., president and CEO of the Cascade Policy Institute, says the decision was driven by politics and it is very unlikely the city will solely be powered by renewable energy.

“We already went through this in 2001, when the City Council said the city and all its agencies would be 100 percent green-powered by 2010,” Charles said. “In fact, the governor, not wanting to be outdone, proclaimed by 2005 all of Oregon’s state agencies would be green-powered by 2010.

“We tracked this in real time, but it was all hat and no cattle,” said Charles. “They are still nowhere near 100 percent green.”

Failed ‘Green’ Promises

The City of Portland has managed to get up to 7 percent of its energy from green sources by buying a bunch of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC), but the State of Oregon only receives 1–2 percent of its energy from renewable-energy sources.

“They accomplish nothing, yet nationally, all the press attention was in 2001, when they said they were going to do this,” Charles said. “But when 2010 came along and it was an epic failure, they didn’t release a press release saying this was an epic failure, they hoped no one would notice. And a year later, they said they were going to do it all by 2015 or something.

“Of course, it didn’t happen then either, but if you call them up, they’ll tell you they’re already at 100 percent,” said Charles. “We [at the Cascade Policy Institute] just looked into this about six months ago, and they’re saying 76 percent of the 100 percent comes from buying Renewable Energy Certificates.”

‘Far Left’ Competing

An REC is a tradable certificate purportedly showing 1 megawatt of renewable energy was generated somewhere and fed into the power grid.

Charles says an REC is bogus, because you cannot charge your iPhone, or anything else, on an REC.

“Now, it’s safer for them to claim they will do something by 2050, because they won’t be around to bear any responsibility for it when it comes and doesn’t happen,” Charles said. “They adopt these grandiose schemes and put them out there for 2030, 2040, and 2050, but so what? They won’t be around then.

Charles says these claims are all about liberal politicians competing to say they are the greenest.

“Portland bureaucrats, activists, and politicians see themselves competing with a handful of far-left places like Berkeley, Seattle, and Boulder, and they keep track of what’s going on in those places, so they always want to raise the bar and do something more outrageous than someone else,” Charles said. “It’s all symbolism.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.