Oregon: New clean energy standards for data centers in Oregon ahead; Washington to follow

Feb 08, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

The Oregon state legislature has introduced a new bill which would require data centers and crypto miners in the state to comply with clean energy standards or be faced with a penalty. The 2023 'House Bill 2816' outlines that high-energy use facilities must reduce their emissions associated with electricity use at set intervals. To prove their compliance, operators must provide the Department of Environmental Quality with an annual report. 

The 'baseline emissions level' is set at 0.428 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt-hour, and such facilities must reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
  • 60 percent below baseline emissions by 2027,
  • 80 percent by 2030, 
  • 90 percent by 2035, and 
  • 100 percent by 2040.

Representative Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, one of three sponsors of House Bill 2816, emphasised the urgency of climate action and, commenting on the bill, said: "We're in a climate emergency. We have to act. And big data centers that are using an excessive amount of energy really need to be on board." Further to this Marsh said that it "made sense" as a next step on the path toward 100% clean energy and ensuring  target goals are met. Democrats Senator Michael Dembrow and Representative Mark Gamba are also sponsoring the bill. 

A similar bill is being proposed in Washington with the House Bill 1416, which would apply clean energy standards, and according to Glenn Blackmon, energy policy manager for the Washington Office of Energy, is part of a broader conversation about how the state prioritises resources to meet climate goals.