Rubio Proposes Additional Climate Investments with Clean Energy Funds

News Article
Investments respond to a variety of needs and opportunities across many sectors

Portland, Ore. – City Commissioner Carmen Rubio today proposed additional climate investments in response to news of unanticipated revenue from the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF). The unanticipated revenue totals $540 million that will be available over the next five years. The additional monies came to light as part of the City’s annual revenue projections process led by the City Budget Office.

This presents an opportunity for even greater investments in the city’s climate work, plus a unique opportunity to drive investment in the most climate-friendly affordable housing at a time when more affordable housing investments are desperately needed and shift the responsibility of right-of-way tree planting and maintenance away from homeowners and businesses and to the City.

“This unanticipated revenue will provide some immediate budget relief and future protection for the City’s General Fund, while also aligning with the community-driven values of the Clean Energy Fund – including making even bigger moves related to the 240,000 street trees across the city and affordable housing,” Rubio said. “We are in a housing crisis and a climate crisis – and this revenue could not have come at a better time. With this revenue, we can drive investments in the greenest affordable housing possible.”

Commissioner Rubio was able to announce her proposal quickly because she directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to continue working with bureaus to identify more projects following the passage of the Climate Investment Plan (CIP) in September. The goal was to create a list of potential additional climate investments that could be deployed in the event there were more funds above and beyond the $750 million in the CIP. Bureaus worked collaboratively to evaluate potential projects based on a range of criteria. Projects recommended to receive a portion of this unanticipated revenue were required to meet and demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Meaningful and measurable greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction or sequestration impacts.
  • Demonstrable community benefits.
  • “Shovel ready”: Projects listed in existing Capital Plans.
  • “Implementation ready”: Projects with existing program capacity and scope.

“I’m incredibly proud of the collaborative work between bureaus in shaping this proposal for additional climate investments. This partnership reflects our shared commitment to sustainability and climate justice and demonstrates the heights we can achieve when we work together,” said BPS Director Donnie Oliveira. “The unanticipated revenue presents a unique opportunity to make even greater strides responding to the climate emergency as we deliver real benefits to all Portlanders.”

Ranfis Villatoro, co-chair of the PCEF Committee added: “I view this as yet another opportunity to go even further while continuing to remain aligned with program goals. I look forward to the discussion in January with my fellow PCEF committee members.”

The additional investments listed below will fund existing climate projects within city bureaus, plus new strategic opportunities. These projects meet the PCEF requirements that investments must reduce or sequester carbon emissions to the benefit of Portlanders. They also support some priority actions listed in the Climate Emergency Workplan, build greater community resilience, and provide resources to enable the City to meet the urgent challenge of the climate crisis.

Set 1: $282 million

The first set of allocations will make both one-time investments as well as ongoing annual funding over five years at the following bureaus:

  • $112 million for Portland Bureau of Transportation ($30 million in one-time funds plus $16.4 million in annual funds)
    • Allocations include continuation of active transportation programs, capital projects focused on complete walking and biking networks, LED streetlighting, and Portland Streetcar fleet replacement.
  • $40 million for Portland Housing Bureau ($10 million in annual funds)
    • Project funds will support energy efficiency upgrades, needed repairs, preservation of affordable regulated rental housing, and lowering utility costs for vulnerable tenants.
  • $26 million for Office of Management and Finance ($1 million in one-time funds plus $5 million in annual funds)
    • Projects include buildout of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and EV acquisition to support City fleet decarbonization and energy efficiency improvements to Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
  • $8.9 million for Portland Parks & Recreation ($7.8 million in one-time funds plus $350,000 in annual funds)
    • Allocations include funding replacement of gas-powered leaf blowers in use by City, energy and resilience upgrades at Mt. Scott Community Center, and programs focused on arborist workforce development.
  • $17.8 million for Portland Water Bureau ($9.3 million in one-time funds plus $1.7 million in annual funds)
    • Allocations include expansion of the Home Water Leak Repair program for low-income Portlanders, energy efficiency upgrades to facilities, and more efficient and continued production of clean energy at the hydroelectric plant in the Bull Run Watershed for the Portland Hydroelectric Project.
  • $77.5 million for Bureau of Environmental Services ($15.5 million in annual funds)
    • Allocations include tree planting and continuation of key programs including natural-areas restoration, watershed, and stormwater management.

Set 2: $258 million

The second set of allocations will make strategic investments in five key projects:

  • $100 million for production of green affordable housing
  • $100 million for the protection and maintenance of 240,000 right-of-way street trees
  • $28 million for a climate-resilient future Keller Auditorium
  • $20 million for climate-friendly infrastructure for the Fire Bureau
  • $10 million for future projects from the Clean Industry Initiative

PCEF staff will bring the proposed funding allocations to the PCEF Committee in January, where they will discuss these investments and make a recommendation to Council. Once approved by City Council, as part of the annual budget process, PCEF will work with project staff on program-specific interagency agreements that will detail cost, scope, outcomes, roles, and responsibilities.

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinct places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, a sustainable food system, digital equity and community technology; and policy and actions to address the climate crisis.

About the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund

The Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) initiative was passed by 65% of Portland voters in November 2018. It provides a consistent, long-term funding source and oversight structure to ensure that our community's climate action efforts are implemented to support social, economic and environmental benefits for all Portlanders, particularly communities of color and low-income residents. The initiative was supported by a broad coalition of groups and individuals and represents the first environmental initiative in Oregon led by communities of color.