Amazon AWS: Amazon and Oregon's clean energy bill

Mar 31, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

In Oregon, House Bill 2816, aims to require data centers to utilize renewable energy and reduce their carbon emissions and Amazon is fighting it. The giant has reportedly been lobbying against the bill since it was first introduced, despite its big green pledges and commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The clean energy bill would require data centers to reduce their emissions by:
  •  60 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2027, 
  • 80 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2030, 
  • 90 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2035, and 
  • 100 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2040.

Failure to comply with the legislation would see companies hit with a penalty of $12,000 per megawatt-hour violation per day; tax breaks would also be withheld.

The company has been utilizing the lobbying services of Oxley & Associates in the state; Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, one of the bill's sponsors, has outlined that the company has been lobbying with such "vehemence" it is casting strong doubt upon whether it has "any intention of actually seeking renewable energy goals." Further, Marsh outlined that she is not aware of any other data center company lobbying against the bill. 

It's pertinent to note that although strict emissions regulations already apply in the Portland area, much of eastern Oregon, where many data centers operate, is currently exempt, as the utilities there were powered primarily by federal hydropower. However, Oregon Live outlines that the industry's energy demands quickly used up the clean energy supply, leading to the utilities purchasing power on the open market; with natural gas being a prime energy source.

Amazon's emissions are already on the rise and the giant's facilities in Morrow and Umatilla counties are primarily using carbon-burning fuel sources to fulfil the majority of their energy needs. 

A vote on the bill is set for Monday, April 3.