Representative Vic Gilliam: Sustainable Energy & the Balance of Power

Representative Vic Gilliam: Sustainable Energy & the Balance of Power
By Taxpayer Association Lawmaker profile

Last year, Oregon Catalyst covered Representative Vic Gilliam’s efforts to empower the state’s Public Utilities Commission to recognize hydrogen hub technology. A “Hydrogen Hub” is a term used to describe an energy storage concept using anhydrous ammonia as the energy storage medium. The concept entails using electric power to electrolyze water to produce hydrogen. This sort of energy generation, Representative Gilliam believes, has more potential than any other renewable energy source.

So, what’s the catch? There isn’t one, believe it or not. Oregon should have its first operating hydrogen hub in the next few years. But, Representative Vic Gilliam explains, the project ought to be warmly accepted by Oregon government leaders. He explains:

The governor came in and waved his magic wand for green energy jobs in Portland. Poof! But nothing came. The solar community came, but it did not lead Oregon out of the recession. Hydrogen-hubs will actually help Oregon businesses and leverage the resources of the northwest. Oregon’s current leadership does not look at renewable energy from an economic point of view. They look in terms of locking Oregon up and making it more pristine. But Oregon needs leadership that that supports both. I believe we can have jobs and an environmentally sound industry.

Representative Gilliam thinks Oregon needs some sort of balance of power. Currently, Democrats control the House, the Senate, the Governor’s Office, and every statewide elected office. President Courtney and Speaker Hunt, Representative Gilliam explains, completely ignore the Republicans. Essentially, “It’s the State of Portland vs. the rest of us. I used to live there, and I’m glad that’s past tense. I am biased by the people I represent. And those people give me every indication that there are a significant number of Oregonians who want a balance of power. They want common sense. Private jobs are plummeting. State jobs have grown. It just doesn’t make sense.”

But, he says, there is hope. “Change who the speaker is, change the chairmanships of key committees. Put together a core of business minded Democrats and a few more Republicans and I think you have making of a responsible legislature that will start us on the road to responsible spending.” He continues:

An additional point of hope is that we are in such bad shape, if even the governor is admitting that we’re spending more than we have, and his union coalition is turning on him, you know we’re getting close to coming to reality.

Representative Gilliam hopes that the Oregon Legislature will agree to meet in special session, to help mitigate Governor Kulongoski’s 9% across-the-board cuts. This would be done by prioritizing government services, increasing cuts some places, and decreasing cuts elsewhere. Representative Gilliam calls this “redefining essential budget levels.” He blasts the agency mindset of “we need what we got last year plus ten percent.” “You cannot,” he explains, “manage a budget this way in a recession.”

— Vic Gilliam Biography: Over 25 year career as a development executive with non-government organizations including Willamette University, OHSU foundation, International Youth Foundation and Mercy Corp. Legislative aide to US Senator Mark O. Hatfield. Appointed by Gov. Tom McCall, confirmed by the Oregon Senate, to a term on the Educational Coordinating Council.