Jun 26, 2017

The City of Hood River is embarking on an exciting project; we’re preparing to launch community solar on our building. Our Public Works Building just so happens to be a long, rectangular building that gets direct sunlight, making it the perfect location for solar, while also cutting the City of Hood River’s Public Works bill in half each month. 

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The project will pay for itself in ten years, but we needed early investments to help to make it happen. This project is made possible, in part, thanks to a partnership with Sustainable Northwest and their "Making Energy Work for Rural Oregon" initiative. Through their support, and the support of the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, we were able to make this project financially possible.

 

Over the life of the project, the array is projected to save the City $96,000 in utility bills, as well as produce 37,500 kWh of electricity each year. What I love about this project is that it ensures the benefits of solar power stay right here in Hood River. The citizens of Hood River who stepped up to finance the project are keeping their investment dollars circulating in the local economy. And the solar panels will be installed by Common Energy, a local company, so we’re helping to create new jobs while lowering our energy costs and carbon output.

Our citizens will feel the savings. By spending less money on energy, we’ll have more funds to spend on operations and improvement projects throughout the City. As Public Works Director, I oversee a lot: our entire water system, road improvements and maintenance, City parks and facilities, City fleets and crews. There’s also an engineering program. My department issues construction permits. We inspect all driveways, sewer and stormwater connections, City signs, and house utility connections. We run all City improvement projects. My department keeps the City running smoothly. The savings from our new solar array will allow us to dedicate more resources to maintaining and improving this place we love to call home.

I see this project as a beginning for the City of Hood River. In the future, we’d like to capture methane gas from our wastewater treatment plant digesters and convert that into biofuel. I’d like to improve energy efficiency in City facilities. Someday we may be able to place a solar farm on City property to help us save even more funds. The city is considering all this and more as part of a multi-jurisdictional energy planning process; Hood River City is but one of several local jurisdictions working collaboratively to fund an energy plan that would improve their resiliency through further investment in local diversified clean energy.

Projects like these are about doing the right thing, but they also represent more than that. They are about making long term beneficial investments in our community that also benefit our community. Clean Energy Jobs would allow us to do more projects like this one, and to undertake them sooner than we would be able to otherwise. My job as Public Works Director means I do everything I can to keep things running smoothly and ensure that Hood River remains a vibrant, good place to live. I can’t imagine anything more in line with that objective than continuing to invest in clean energy projects that would help our community so directly.