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The Oregonian
February 16, 2011

Creating our own 'Sputnik Moment' for Oregon

The Oregonian published a guest editorial on February 16, 2011, on clean energy development and job creation in Oregon. The piece, entitled Creating our own 'Sputnik Moment' for Oregon, was a collaborative effort between RNP and others. The editorial was signed by Lisa Adatto of Climate Solutions, John J. Audley at Renewable Northwest Project, and Glenn Montgomery of the Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association.
 
In addition to the three authors noted with the editorial, other clean energy coalition members worked hard toward this editorial and deserve to be recognized. Their names - while submitted - were not included with The Oregonian piece, as editors indicated that only three names per submission were acceptable. We would like to thank the following coalition members for their time and expertise as co-authors of today's piece:
     Doris Penwell, Association of Oregon Counties
     Paul Woodin, Community Renewable Energy Association
     Robert Grott, Northwest Environmental Business Council
     Jana Gastellum, Oregon Environmental Council
The editorial, which follows, can be found online at:

Creating our own 'Sputnik Moment' for Oregon
 
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged America by identifying what he called our "Sputnik Moment" -- the challenge a generation faces that will shape its future. He focused on innovation, "especially clean-energy technology -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet and create countless new jobs for our people."
 
The president underscored our nation's tradition -- our obligation -- of creating a better future for our children. As we navigate the fallout of a global economic crisis, now is the time for Oregon to push forward as a leader more than ever.
 
Gov. John Kitzhaber's inaugural address reflected the same commitment to a bright future, provided the state meets its challenges in education, health care and job creation. But what Oregon enjoys that few other states can claim is a longstanding value for and commitment to investments in clean energy.
 
The clean-energy sector has made a leading investment in Oregon's economy and recovery. It's the answer to job creation -- through direct project-related jobs, secondary impacts and supply-chain involvement. The renewable energy sector alone has invested more than $5 billion throughout the state so far, with much of that investment benefitting communities around the state blessed with abundant natural resources capable of generating clean, renewable energy.
 
Obama discussed how America needs industries to take root within the country as part of our economic recovery and future success. Oregon offers unparalleled examples of doing just that, in how we've cultivated clean-energy industries and a robust manufacturing supply chain. Oregon has become the solar manufacturing capital of the country, employing 1,700 people now and projected to grow to nearly 2,400 by the end of this year. Energy efficiency has helped companies around Oregon save money; an analysis completed in 2010 found more than 13,000 jobs in companies involved with this sector. The biomass industry is also growing. Our list of positive examples goes on and on.
 
How were we so lucky to get a jump-start on this generation's Sputnik Moment? Despite The Oregonian's repeated focus on negative stories associated with clean-energy programs, the fact is that Oregon's policies have made a positive difference: the Renewable Energy Standard creates a market, and incentives such as the Business and Residential Energy Tax Credit put Oregon on the map. These policies have reflected the vision and values of our citizens, and they've made Oregon a leader in an increasingly competitive global economics race.
 
As the Oregon Legislature tackles a difficult session, clean-energy advocates, business leaders and counties from around the state are uniting to urge legislators to continue Oregon's leadership in the clean-energy economy. We hope they may find a way forward that continues incentive programs and the momentum for clean energy that's respectful of the state's financial situation. Tax credits and loan programs have been essential in creating success in this sector.
 
While every stakeholder supports greater accountability for such programs, their results should also be recognized and highlighted through the many available fact-based examples and stories about jobs and local economic and environmental benefits in rural and urban Oregon.
 
Our success stories will demonstrate that Oregon can continue to lead the nation and build the clean-energy economy if the political will is there to support it.
 
Lisa Adato (sic) is Oregon director of Climate Solutions. John J. Audley is deputy director at the Renewable Northwest Project. Glenn Montgomery is executive director of the Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association.
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