Broad Coalition Calls on City Council To Honor Voters’ Intentions for Portland Clean Energy Fund


Friday, May 10th, 2024

Contact: Damon Motz-Storey,, 303-913-5634 (cell)

Broad Coalition Representing Over 50,000 Portlanders Calls on City Council To Honor Voters’ Intentions for the Portland Clean Energy Fund

The coalition is led by many of the same leading organizations who drafted, passed, and supported implementation of the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund.

(PORTLAND, OR) – A broad coalition of environmental, social services, and racial justice groups representing over 50,000 Portland residents released a letter calling on Portland City Council to honor the intent of voters who approved the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) through a local ballot measure in 2018. PCEF supports climate action projects like rooftop solar, green spaces, and clean energy job training programs, funded by a 1% surcharge on billion-dollar corporations with over $500,000 in annual Portland sales.

“The passage of this landmark initiative marked a turning point. For the first time, Portland has real capacity to invest in workforce and infrastructure to create a thriving green economy and more resilient neighborhoods and communities,” the letter reads. “We ask that you honor the will of Portland voters and the original purpose of PCEF: to make sustained investments in projects that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits for our communities.”

The letter’s main signatories are groups who created the PCEF measure, including Verde, APANO, the Coalition of Communities of Color, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Native American Youth & Family Center, Bird Alliance of Oregon, Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper, and 350PDX. The letter has an additional 35 signatories ranging from local storefronts like the Community Cycling Center to community-based organizations like Friends of Trees. The groups’ combined membership and supporter base represents an extensive network of over 50,000 Portlanders from across the city.

“Inequality and climate change are both getting worse, so Portlanders are counting on PCEF,” said Candace Avalos, Executive Director of Verde, an environmental justice nonprofit based in Northeast Portland’s Cully Neighborhood. “We hope the City Council will hear our communities’ strong support for this vital and innovative program and not stray from its mission.”

Portland City Commissioners Rene Gonzalez and Dan Ryan have expressed desire to undermine the Portland Clean Energy Fund by either reallocating its revenue or cutting the PCEF surcharge on billion-dollar retailers.

“Portland keeps seeing more smoke-filled skies, deadly heat waves, and destructive ice storms,” said Damon Motz-Storey, Director of the Sierra Club’s Oregon Chapter. “We cannot backtrack on the clear mandate set by 65% of Portland voters to fund climate action and environmental justice. Reopening this settled debate during a critical election year would not be a good use of time and would erode public trust.”

“I recognize that Portland leaders are facing tough budget issues, but nothing is more important in a democracy than following the will of our voters,” said Representative Khanh Pham (D-Portland), who was a leader of the coalition to pass PCEF before being elected to the Oregon legislature. “We shouldn’t second-guess the voters when we can instead fund a wide range of city climate projects with PCEF as Portlanders intended.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler recently proposed a budget that would use PCEF to fund initiatives like electrifying the city vehicle fleet, caring for city trees, and clean energy and efficiency upgrades to rental housing, parks buildings, and street lights. The PCEF Community Advisory Committee gave feedback on the proposed budget and found alignment with the PCEF program’s goals and commitment to prioritizing low-income Portlanders and communities of color.

“Our communities need every dollar that PCEF has to stay focused on clean energy, green jobs, and environmental justice,” said Jenny Lee, Deputy Director of the Coalition of Communities of Color. “When city leaders ensure PCEF is spent only on projects with clear climate and community benefits, we all win.”