Clean Energy Works expands into 2011
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Seventeen Oregon communities will launch an energy efficiency program in 2011 as part of an expansion of a successful Portland pilot that garnered $20 million in federal stimulus funds in April.
Clean Energy Works Portland has helped 356 homeowners finance and install energy efficiency upgrades such as insulation and low-energy appliances since summer 2009. It tacks the cost of the upgrades onto participants' utility bills.
Though created as part of Portland’s Climate Action Plan with Multnomah County — aimed at lowering energy use to reduce carbon emissions — the program also had the benefit of creating jobs. Contractors pre-approved to receive work through the Portland pilot reported 23 hires, and 285 employees and subcontractors received related paychecks.
Based on early success, Clean Energy Works Portland received a $20 million bump from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in April. The money came from a $452 million pot aimed at creating 30,000 construction jobs nationally by shifting workers in one of the hardest hit industries in the nation — construction — into energy efficiency work.
The city has since granted $18 million of those funds to the newly formed nonprofit Clean Energy Works Oregon. (The City of Portland kept $2 million to administer the grant and Portland-related aspects of the program.) Beginning in 2011, Clean Energy Works will expand the program across the state with the dual purpose of lowering energy demands and galvanizing a budding energy efficiency industry.
Portland will continue to participate in the program as it expands, and in 2011 will be joined under the Clean Energy Works Oregon umbrella by partner programs in Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego and Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. Outside the Portland Metro area, Hood River, Astoria, Klamath Falls, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, Bend and Pendleton are also participating, along with Lane, Deschutes, Klamath and Coos counties and the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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