Stimulus nets Oregon $380M for energy projects
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Stimulus spending by the Oregon Department of Energy has funded more than $45 million in energy projects in the state, according to an announcement this week from the department, touting awards to 292 projects in 36 counties.
These latest grants represent only a small percent of energy-related stimulus spending in Oregon. According to data from from the federal government, 51 other projects also received grants directly from the U.S. Treasury, primarily for wind and solar projects, totaling an additional $335 million since 2009. The state also received additional funding for appliance rebates, for planning for renewable energy at the Oregon Public Utility Commission, and to improve energy infrastructure.
As final tallies of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are coming in, two main questions remain. What will happen to the businesses who benefited from the money once it's no longer flowing and how much lasting impact will it have on the economy.
The $45 million announced this week by the Department of Energy represents all of the money Oregon received for projects in two programs aimed at local governments and schools.
Funded by the stimulus program which first began funding through state programs in May 2009, the grants were awarded for everything from heating and ventilation systems at the Baker County Courthouse and weatherization at the Elgin Opera House to a geothermal project at Portland State University and a solar array in Benton County.
They were issued through the Conservation Block Grant and the State Energy Program, mostly in sums less than $1 million.
And though it will be years before it's clear whether the controversial stimulus spending seeded industries, or saved jobs longer than the short-term duration of the projects, Ann Grim, communications specialist at the Oregon Department of Energy, said the program did increase energy generation from renewable resources, and future energy savings from efficiency projects funded by stimulus money is significant.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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