THE PORTLAND CLEAN ENERGY INITIATIVE MEANS CLEAN ENERGY AND GREEN JOBS IN PORTLAND.
The Portland Clean Energy Initiative means $30 million in new annual revenue for clean energy and clean energy jobs in Portland. Nonprofit organizations, alone or in partnership with for-profit companies, schools and/or other government agencies, can apply for grants from this revenue to weatherize homes, install solar and other renewable energy projects, provide job and contractor training, expand local food production and build green infrastructure in Portland. The revenue is raised by a new 1% business licensing surcharge on the Portland revenue generated by retail corporations with over $1 billion in annual revenue and at least $500,000 in Portland revenue.
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Frontline community-facing organizations are the core of our steering committee: Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, NAACP Portland Branch 1120, Native American Youth & Family Center, OPAL/Environmental Justice Oregon, and Verde. Our steering committee also draws on Portland’s renowned environmental movement: 350PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club. And our coalition has grown to include over 200 organizational and individual endorsements.
The Portland Clean Energy Initiative has a fundamental commitment to Portlanders who are most impacted by climate change but have been excluded from the emerging low-carbon economy: low-income people and people of color. At least 50% of grant-funded energy efficiency/renewable energy projects “should specifically benefit low-income residents and communities of color;” and at least 20% of all grants “shall be awarded to nonprofit organizations with a mission and track record of programs that benefit economically disadvantaged community members.”
Our initiative is Oregon’s first ever community of color-led environmental ballot measure, with core leadership from the African-American, Native American, Latinx and Asian-Pacific Islander communities. The culmination of years of capacity building partnerships between organizations of color and the philanthropic community, PCEI signals the arrival of a new inclusive climate movement that can win elections in Portland, in Oregon and nationwide.
Is this like Measure 97?
A: Measure 97 was a statewide initiative, whereas the Portland Clean Energy Initiative only applies to major retailers in the City Portland. Measure 97 did not exempt groceries and medicine, while the Portland Clean Energy Initiative does. Measure 97 won in Portland with over 60% of the vote.
Why retail corporations?
A: Most retailers have the longest supply trains, and don't account for greenhouse gases in the production and distribution of their products. For every dollar spent at a national retail store, 58 cents gets recirculated back into the community as opposed to 73 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned store. These corporations can and should pay their fair share to address climate change and invest in our community.
How can I be sure the dollars will be spent wisely?
A: Administrative costs will be limited to 5% of the annual fund. A nine-person grant committee patterned after the successful Portland Children's Levy will decide on which projects get funded and assure accountability. Members of the committee will be required to have extensive experience in the fields pertaining to the Initiative and represent the economic and racial diversity of those most impacted by the effects of climate change.
Doesn’t the Energy Trust do this? Isn’t this a duplication of efforts?
A: Energy Trust provides support and incentives for residential energy efficiency and solar to the level governed by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission, whose mission does not include climate change or social justice. This effort will add much-needed dollars on top of Energy Trust incentives.
How will it be funded?
A: The measure would authorize a 1% supplemental business license surcharge on large retail corporations, such as Wells Fargo, Apple, Comcast, and Banana Republic, that generate over $1 billion a year in national revenue and $500,000 in Portland sales. Revenue from groceries and medicine would be exempted.
What organizations developed the Initiative?
A: NAACP Portland Branch, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Verde, Coalition of Communities of Color, 350PDX, and Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club.
How will this affect consumer prices at impacted retailers?
A: There is no credible argument that the Portland Clean Energy Initiative would meaningfully affect demand or hurt consumers. Major retailers determine their store prices based on national trends, so a 1% business license surcharge in Portland would not be significant enough to impact retailers' price determinations on a national level.
Doesn't the State of Oregon have programs to do this work?
A: Of the 249,000 single family and multiple family housing units in Portland 213,000 are in need of energy efficiency upgrading. The Portland Clean Energy Initiative will effectively stop the boom-and-bust cycle of insufficient support for energy efficiency and solar by utilities and public agencies. In 2014, Oregon Public Utilities Commission cut residential energy efficiency incentives available via Energy Trust. Current solar funding is under threat by the Legislature, as are tax credits from Oregon Dept. of Energy. What’s needed is a stable source of long-term funding that is aligned with the scale of our challenges related to climate change and economic equity. We also need to provide resources for families that do not have the disposable income to spend to qualify for energy efficiency rebates and tax credits.
Aren't there incentives that already exist for solar power?
A: The Oregon Department of Energy's Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program ended in 2017. Nearly 600,000 Oregonians participated in the program between 1977 and 2017, receiving incentives for ductless heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric vehicle chargers, and more. Energy efficiency projects like this need funding, and the loss of the Renewable Energy Tax Credit program further underlines the need for the Portland Clean Energy Initiative.