Renewable energy investment in Oregon surpasses $5.4B
Apr 20, 2011 - sustainablebusinessoregon.com
More than $5.4 billion has been invested in renewable energy in Oregon, most of which has come within the last four years, according to new data released Thursday by the Renewable Northwest Project.
The investments span wind, solar and geothermal energy production. Solar manufacturing alone has created nearly 1,600 jobs.
“It’s helping support our economy, it’s helping to keep our air clean, and it’s helping keep the community vibrant both on the urban and rural side,” said Rachel Shimshak, executive director of the Renewable Northwest Project, a Portland-based advocacy group.
Just as important, Shimshak — who was to be joined during an event at Iberdrola Renewables Portland headquarters Thursday with several other industry leaders — said Oregon is building an economy around clean, reliable and safe forms of energy at a time when other parts of the world deal with major oil spills, coal mining tragedies, or threats of nuclear radiation.
The event Thursday is an opportunity to “be thankful for being in a leadership position and not having to suffer the same kinds of terrible consequences associated with other forms of energy,” she said.
The vast majority of renewable energy investment has come from the development of wind farms.
There are now 2,374 megawatts in operating wind energy projects in Oregon, representing an conservative estimate of $4.5 billion in capital investment, according to the data.
The manufacturing of solar energy products accounts for more about $632 million in investment. Most of that comes from SolarWorld A.G., the German panel manufacturer that invested around $500 million in its Hillsboro-based U.S. headquarters and manufacturing plant.
Residential and commercial solar energy development has generated round $140 million in capital invested in Oregon followed by geothermal energy, which accounted for more than $121 million.
Though the Oregon investments date back to 1998 with NextEra Energy’s Vansycle wind farm in Umatilla County — the industryonly began to take off around 2007 meaning most of that $5.4 billion was invested within the last four years, Shimshak said.
It’s a message she hopes Oregon legislators hear as they mull the fate of renewable energy incentives and other programs that could steer the industry’s future.
“The Legislature is in active consideration of all kinds of issues and we want them to recognize the direct investment that’s being made and the environmental and economic benefits of those investments as they do their work,” she said.
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