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​Solar panels at the Baldock Solar Highway project
What does the Governor’s Energy Plan mean for transportation?
 
With Oregonians consuming 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and driving 39 billion miles every year, fuel costs now average nearly seven percent of disposable income, nearly double the cost ten years ago.  As a significant source of air pollution that impacts health and the single largest contributor to Oregon’s carbon emissions, a more energy efficient transportation system presents clear opportunities to improve the state’s environment and economy.
 
Transportation occupies an important place in Governor Kitzhaber’s draft 10-Year Energy Action Plan, which lays out strategies to align the state’s economic objectives with its efficiency, renewable energy, transportation and carbon reduction goals. The draft plan emphasizes priorities that help deliver affordable and reliable energy while getting Oregonians back to work on energy-related projects across the state.
 
“This plan is a central component of my strategy to position Oregon to be more competitive in the global economy of the 21st century,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “It provides a framework to move Oregon beyond a boom/bust economic cycle that depletes our natural capital and leaves us vulnerable to fluctuations in global markets, and move us toward a future where our state is a leader in energy efficiency, home-grown renewable energy resources, and clean energy employment.”
 
The plan relies on three core strategies where the state can play a lead role in innovation, policy development and market transformation:
1. Maximizing energy efficiency and conservation to meet 100 percent of new electricity load growth.
2. Enhancing clean energy infrastructure development by removing finance and regulatory barriers.
3. Accelerating the market transition to a more efficient, cleaner transportation system.
 
What it means for transportation
The plan looks to accelerate and expand efforts already underway that are transitioning the state toward a cleaner and more efficient transportation system that moves beyond a heavy dependence on oil for moving goods and people.
 
A number of specific transportation-related action items are identified in the plan:
  • Achieve 20 percent conversion of large fleets to alternative fuel vehicles over the next ten years.
  • Build out the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Accelerate the deployment of intelligent transportation systems.
  • Continue to partner with local communities to use scenario planning for Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
  • Incorporate least cost planning into transportation plans and investment scenarios.
  • Conduct a demonstration of an alternative revenue model based on vehicle miles travelled that includes a “vehicle impact fee” based on factors like weight and emissions.
 
The draft plan was shaped by input, advice, and technical expertise from hundreds of Oregonians and organizations. A citizen task force met regularly for six months, submitting nearly 200 recommendations that were incorporated into the plan. Public input will continue to guide the effort, with a 60-day public comment period ending on July 31, 2012, and three public meetings will be scheduled around the state.  After gathering public comments and further engaging stakeholders, the plan will be finalized later this year.
 
The draft plan is available online.