Oregon Energy Retrofit Pilot Success

City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

The City of Portland and newly formed nonprofit Clean Energy Works Oregon today announced the successful completion of the Clean Energy Works Portland home energy efficiency retrofit pilot and the expansion of the program statewide. As of March 2011, all of the pilot’s goals had been achieved. Five hundred homes were enrolled in the program and received an energy assessment, low-interest loan for energy upgrades, a personal Energy Advisor and connection to pre-qualified construction professionals. The program also created 29 entry-level jobs in the hard hit construction industry, provided opportunities for established professionals to gain skills in green building, and made paychecks possible for 381 workers who otherwise may not have had work.

The City capitalized the pilot’s revolving loan fund with $1.1 million of its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) award. The U.S. Department of Energy and energy advocates have lauded the Portland pilot as a national model. To date, there are at least 25 similar programs across the country, but no other EECBG-funded programs have achieved as much as the Portland program.

“Today, the City of Portland celebrates the early success of the Clean Energy Works Portland pilot and welcomes the new Clean Energy Works Oregon,” said Portland Mayor Sam Adams. “Though our Bureau of Planning and Sustainability led the way, we are grateful for the innovative collaboration from our many community partners, including Energy Trust of Oregon, Enterprise Cascadia, NW Natural, Pacific Power, PGE, Worksystems, Green for All and our host of stakeholders, including contractors, unions and community groups.”

Due to the success of the pilot, in June of 2010 the U.S. Department of Energy invested an additional $20 million dollars from its BetterBuildings program to fund the expansion of the program across Oregon. The statewide program, which will help homeowners transform older homes into energy-efficient, comfortable homes, will be administered by Clean Energy Works Oregon.

The new organization will work closely with Energy Trust of Oregon. Energy Trust serves 1.5 million Oregon utility customers, providing solutions and cash incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades for homes, businesses and industry. Energy Trust is contributing the value of cash incentives for every eligible home that participates in Clean Energy Works.

The expansion is expected to bring $100 million in private capital to communities throughout the state. Seven of those communities are in the Metro area and include Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties and the cities of Portland, Lake Oswego and Gresham. The three-year goals of the expansion are to complete 6,000 residential projects, create 1,300 family-supporting jobs and generate significant energy savings. The expanded program is launching in the Metro area today with an expected phased rollout to the Rogue Valley, Eugene/Lane County, Hood River, Astoria, Klamath Falls, Coos County, Pendleton, Bend/Deschutes County, Corvallis and Salem throughout 2011.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Clackamas County homeowners to join with others in the Portland area to improve energy efficiency, save valuable resources, help create jobs and decrease their own day-to-day living costs,” said Clackamas County Commissioner Ann Lininger.

In mid-March, Clean Energy Works Oregon conducted a soft launch of a new website that offers an easy online application. The City of Portland and Clean Energy Works contractors have sent out preliminary information about the program and its initial rebate offerings totaling up to $3,700. This targeted pre-sale activity has already generated more than 500 applications.

“Clean Energy Works Oregon makes home energy efficiency affordable and easy,” said Derek Smith, CEO of Clean Energy Works Oregon. “As communities look to economic development through climate action, Clean Energy Works offers a proven, turnkey service that produces jobs, energy savings, carbon reductions and housing affordability.”

Most homes in the pilot experienced a 20 percent or greater reduction in energy consumption after their retrofits were complete.

About Clean Energy Works Oregon

Formed in 2010 from the City of Portland’s innovative Clean Energy Works Portland pilot, Clean Energy Works Oregon is a nonprofit organization committed to positive social change by reducing the state’s environmental impact and creating new, family-supporting jobs. For homeowners seeking a simplified and streamlined way of improving their homes’ energy efficiency, Clean Energy Works Oregon offers an all-in-one solution by bundling multiple upgrades, vetting contractors, and arranging low-interest financing and easy repayment through a homeowner’s monthly utility bill. By weaving issues of sustainability, access to capital and the creation of family-sustaining jobs, Clean Energy Works Oregon is a model for new partnerships between public, private and nonprofit interests. For more information, or to apply for the program, visit www.cewo.org.

About City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

To create and enhance a vibrant city, BPS combines the disciplines of planning and sustainability to advance Portland’s diverse and distinct neighborhoods, promote a prosperous and low-carbon economy, and help ensure that people and the natural environment are healthy and integrated into the cityscape. BPS provides a forum for community engagement and education, and is a catalyst for action. With a city full of partners, BPS develops creative and practical solutions on issues as far ranging as comprehensive, neighborhood and environmental planning, urban design, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and solar technologies. This innovative, interdisciplinary approach strengthens Portland’s position as an international model of sustainable development practices and commerce. For more information, please visit  www.portlandonline.com/bps.
# # #

Editor’s Note: The below quotes are available for use as needed and demonstrate broad support for the program.

“This announcement is the direct result of Oregon’s decades-long work to establish itself as a leader in clean energy and recognition of its efforts to create jobs in the new green economy. It is because of these pioneering efforts, including a program that helps building owners finance energy-saving measures, that Oregon has emerged from this competitive grant process with additional resources it needs to reduce air pollution, create jobs and make homes and businesses across the state more energy efficient. With the federal government as a partner, Oregon will now be able to put people back to work making homes, schools and businesses across the state more efficient while saving taxpayers more of their hard-earned money.” —U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

“I’ve seen firsthand how Clean Energy Works Portland creates jobs and reduces energy use, and I’m excited that more families and businesses across the state will now be able to benefit. Today’s announcement is a powerful endorsement for the work being done by Clean Energy Works.” —U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

“These grant dollars, when matched with other private investment, will provide the necessary push to accelerate Oregon’s efforts now underway to redesigning the way we achieve energy efficiency. NW Natural is optimistic that large-scale, cost-effective conservation is within reach. We are proud to be part of the team demonstrating these concepts and will continue to look for ways to deploy our company’s assets and skills to ensure this effort’s success.” —Gregg Kantor, CEO, NW Natural