Bend's Environmental Center Supports Two Bills in 2018 Legislature | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Bend's Environmental Center Supports Two Bills in 2018 Legislature

Clean energy jobs and energy efficiency on the docket this short session


During the current short session, Oregon state legislators will consider two bills close to the heart of environmental groups. The Environmental Center is supporting the Clean Energy Jobs Bill, or Senate Bill 1070—a cap-and-invest bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The bill, which is a 28-page brain squeezer, is brought down to size on the webpage. In essence, the cap will limit climate pollution for emitters of over 25,000 tons of greenhouse gasses per year.

Those companies who fall into this category would pay for each ton of climate pollution they spew into the atmosphere. The price is stable and adjusted over time, giving polluters incentive to cut emissions, and allows flexibility to do so efficiently and at the least cost. The dollars collected would be reinvested in clean energy solutions, such as solar, efficiency upgrades to houses and businesses, and added public transportation options. In rural Oregon, investments will be targeted for projects such as wildfire prevention, drought protection and clean energy.

The Environmental Center is also supporting House Bill 4121, or Home WRAP (Weatherization, Retrofit and Affordability Program), a bill that would offer incentive to Oregonians—including nonprofit landlords—to help pay for weatherproofing and energy-related upgrades, including solar power. To get WRAP going, homeowners or landlords would get with a contractor to discuss making their dwelling more energy efficient. The contractor would then apply to the Oregon Housing and Community Services for a grant designed to cover 20 percent of project costs, up to $4,500. The cash awarded is based on the amount of projected energy savings.

WRAP isn't designed as a tax credit, but instead as a direct incentive, and it wouldn't apply to households whose income exceeds $200,000 per year. In addition, its backers hope it will help low-income people and communities through the two-tier award structure, giving larger incentives to lower-income applicants for the same projects.

The House committee on Economic Development and Trade is currently considering the WRAP bill. The Clean Energy Jobs Bill had its first reading in the Oregon Senate last July, and was on the Senate president's desk when the 2017 session adjourned.

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