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Oregon's Clean Energy Economy

Oregon’s Clean Energy Economy:
A Clean Edge State Clean Energy Leadership Index Report

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This report, sponsored by the Portland Development Commission and Business Oregon, the two key economic development agencies within the state, evaluates Oregon’s standing in the U.S. clean-energy economy. The report leverages data from Clean Edge’s 2011 State Clean Energy Leadership Index, a subscription-based research service that provides a unique perspective of U.S. clean-energy activity by aggregating and analyzing industry datasets from a variety of public, private, and Clean Edge sources.

The report highlights Oregon’s strongest areas of activity and compares the state’s performance against national averages and performances of five other top performing states chosen for their similar characteristics and high frequency of interstate competition: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas. Topics covered include:

  1. Clean Electricity
  2. Clean Transportation
  3. Energy Intelligence (green building, smart grid, efficiency)
  4. Financial Capital
  5. Workforce and Innovation
  6. Policy structure

The following are excerpts and highlights from Oregon's Clean Energy Economy: A Clean Edge State Clean Energy Leadership Index Report. To read the full report, please open the PDF file by clicking on the “Download” links.

Oregon’s robust industry presence earned it a second-place ranking in the 2011 State Clean Energy Leadership Index. Trailing only California’s overall score of 95.3 (out of 100), Oregon’s score of 79.4 was enough to beat out the next three top performers Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado. Of the states compared against Oregon in this report, California scored highest, followed by Massachusetts at 71.8 (third place), Colorado with 60.2 (fifth), Texas at 47.6 (18th), and finally Arizona at 40.7 (24th). With only six states earning scores higher than 60 and a median U.S. score of 40.4, results of the State Clean Energy Leadership Index indicate that while examples of clean-energy activity can be found in every corner of the nation, a clear top tier of states exhibits leadership across a wide variety of clean-energy sectors and activities.

Oregon enjoys a number of key assets, including:

  1. A rich culture of early sustainability adopters
  2. Proximity to large, ready markets in both California and Asia
  3. World-class high-tech manufacturing and workforce expertise
  4. Committed support from local and state government
  5. Plentiful low-cost energy enabling strong business attraction

Oregon’s significant technology deployment, supportive government policies, and successful track record of capital attraction and job creation have given the state a prominent standing in the U.S. clean-energy industry. But with increased domestic and foreign industry competition, and an overall economic climate that has left most states constrained for capital, business as usual will not guarantee Oregon a lasting competitive edge. 

Oregon's Clean Energy Economy

According to our research:

  • Including hydro – and thanks to a deep commitment to energy efficiency – the state could get 75 percent of its generation from renewable sources by 2025. Approximately 64 percent of Oregon’s in-state electricity generation comes from utility-scale renewables, biomass, and hydro, making it a national leader. Only three other states generate more of their electricity from these sources.
  • Oregon ranks #3 in the U.S. in hybrid electric vehicle adoption on a per-capita basis, behind only California and Vermont. The state is also aggressively pursuing the transition to all-electric and plug-in electric vehicles, ranking first in the nation for the number of EV charging stations per capita.
  • Oregon ranked #1 among U.S. states in LEED-certified green building projects per capita in 2010, and has a rich history of LEED adoption. However, while Oregon is a clear leader in LEED projects, it fares less well in Energy Star buildings, ranking only in the Top 15 for commercial and residential certifications.
  • The state is #2 for smart meter penetration nationwide, with smart meters representing 25 percent of total meters.
  • Although not considered a financial hub, Oregon ranked in the top five states for total clean-energy venture investments, on a per-capita basis, in both 2010 and between 2008-2010. Further, several well-funded California startups have brought their monies and deployed them in Oregon to set up advanced manufacturing, including firms like Solaicx (recently acquired by MEMC) and Solo-Power. California and Massachusetts, however, are the nation’s clear VC leaders in clean tech, with the states representing the bulk of venture capital investments in the U.S.
  • According to reports by both Pew and Brookings, Oregon ranks at or near the top in the percentage of jobs dedicated to the clean economy. Pew put the state at number one, and Brookings put it at number two, for the percentage of jobs in the clean-energy sector.

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