There is a need to establish funding programs that underwrite planning and accountability consistent with modernizing and unifying Oregon’s energy and technology policies. It has been difficult to identify funding sources that can be committed beyond a single biennium. However, there are several long-term options available. In 2011 Power Oregon asked the Oregon Legislature to pass House Bill 3507 which authorizes the Oregon Innovation Council to make grants and loans for any duration. The Energy Trust of Oregon, which would be included in a unified governance system, has long-term funding from a public purpose charge on utility rates authorized by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. In addition to these long term funding sources, the Legislature can authorize funding for a specified contract term. It is paramount to establish long-term talent development funding mechanisms if Oregon is to succeed with plans for sustained economic growth.
Oregon’s Funding for Workforce Training Falling Short
A recent study authored by Portland State University power engineering professor Robert Bass provides valuable information on investments by the State of Oregon to meet technology workforce deficiencies. The study concludes that existing funding mechanisms that support workforce training are inadequate. The study recommends that long-term funding be found so that the private sector can begin to match public investments in workforce training.
Hatfield School of Government Study
To facilitate dialogue about funding, Power Oregon commissioned a study with the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. The study was designed to provide an analysis of state agency budgets to identify energy policy, conservation, and renewable generation investments during the past five years. Examining the size and purpose of these investments may shed some light on engineering workforce needs. The findings of the study show that Oregon has largely ignored funding for strategic talent. The study also finds that Oregon spends nearly $400 million each year on energy policy there is little coordination between responsible agencies
Power Oregon recommends that attention be given to funding an engineering workforce education program for a minimum of 15 years to achieve needed planning and workforce training goals. Our goal is to develop strategic funding sources that underwrite:
- Targeted engineering workforce goals that are strategic and demand driven.
- Measurable outcomes and accountability standards.
- Public/private administration to maximize efficiency and funding from private sources to meet the sustainable funding needs of separate and unified governance.