OMEU Policy Positions in the 2018 Oregon State Legislative Assembly:

Carbon Cap & Trade

OMEU finds that Carbon Cap and Trade may be an effective tool to reduce greenhouse gases. However, during the 2018 Session OMEU did not support House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507 due to the following concerns:

  • As consumer-owned utilities work to help reduce carbon emissions we should not be penalized for load growth attributable to policies that reduce the use of fossil fuels and move load to electric providers. This load would include electric vehicles and fuel switching from fossil fuels to electricity.
  • Given their important role in advising the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) in the rulemaking process, the Program Advisory Committee should include a voice for consumer-owned utilities. However, OMEU also believes that the Legislature should provide more specific intent and directives for the EQC rulemaking focused on project eligibility and ensuring an appropriate nexus to carbon reductions. Given the significant impacts, taxpayers and consumers should be the first priority in mitigation funding.
  • OMEU continues to have serious concerns about the inconsistency of the State of Oregon’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the State’s efforts to reduce low-carbon hydro-generation with spill operations at the Snake and Columbia River dams. These policies must be reconciled.
  • While we appreciate the efforts of the sponsors to ensure accommodations for energy-intensive, trade-exposed businesses, OMEU is concerned about the whether these new carbon policies may negatively impact our ability to attract new industrial customers to Oregon. The health of our utilities is directly related to the health of our local economies.

Oregon Department of Energy Restructuring

With respect to efforts to reform the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE), OMEU believes that: 

  • The mission of the agency should be narrowed to core functions:
    • Energy Facilities Siting Council – energy permitting
    • Nuclear and emergency management
    • Director and Governor’s Energy Advisor, &
    • streamlined technical assistance staff
  • Any move to Commission-governance of the agency should include voting representation from consumer-owner utilities
  • The Energy Supplier Assessment (ESA) statutory cap should be reduced

Reforms to Qualification Based Selection 

Qualification-Based Selection (QBS), found in ORS 279C.110, is a procurement process for the selection of professional services for public construction projects.

During the 2018 Session, OMEU supported HB 4127-A, which proposed a more transparent, accountable, and efficient process for purchasing professional services while preserving the current law for jurisdictions that opt to use it. 

HB 4127-A would have allowed public contracting agencies to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and select up to three qualified firms. After an initial qualification-based selection is made, just as it is done currently, public contracting agencies would then be permitted to request pricing information prior to opening negotiations. This proposed reform of the current process will offer:

  • Increased Transparency and Accountability – the current QBS process makes it difficult for public employees to be transparent or accountable to elected local leaders for the contracts they sign. Without the ability to consider pricing information prior to selecting a consultant, public employees can only say they negotiated the contract as required by law. Similarly, elected officials who are charged with ensuring public dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively cannot fairly evaluate whether a contract represents the best overall value for ratepayers. 
  • Increased Small Business Competition and Access – Emerging small businesses are disadvantaged when competing on qualifications alone. QBS results in large and well-established firms being awarded lucrative government contracts without meaningful competition. HB 4127A increases opportunities for small businesses who are qualified for the job to compete on price.
  • Increased Efficiency in Government – It takes about 6 – 8 weeks to negotiate a contract with a consultant. Public contracting agencies have a disincentive to move through the list of qualified firms, which can jeopardize project timelines and may result in a less favorable outcome. HB 4127A allows public contracting agencies to have more information prior to negotiating with a qualified consultant and creates a level playing field for negotiations.