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‘Incredible time for clean energy’

By JANET COOK

News staff writer

April 22, 2006

A clean energy forum on Tuesday sponsored by several local businesses drew a crowd of about 50 people to the auditorium in the Waucoma Building.

The keynote speaker was Rhys Roth of Olympia, Wash.-based Climate Solutions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the Pacific Northwest become a world leader in renewable energy.

“This is an incredible time for clean energy,” Roth said. “We are approaching the tipping point” in terms of clean energy technology reaching mass market status.

“We have the opportunity in the Northwest to be leaders in clean energy, to provide good jobs, to bring vitality to places that have been hurting, and to do it in a way that reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” Roth said.

Another speaker, Cylvia Hayes of 3E Strategies, a Bend-based organization focused on sustainable building, renewable energy and sustainable economic development, said she thinks Oregon is poised to play a central role in what she called “a revolution as significant as the industrial revolution.”

“The renewable energy industry in the U.S. is projected to grow to $180 billion annually over the next 15 years,” she said.

Roth and Hayes agreed that Oregon and the Northwest are at the leading edge of renewable resource technology and that the time is right to embrace renewable energy as an economic force.

“Our state has more diversity of renewable energy resources than any other state,” Hayes said, citing its prevalence of natural resources like wind, solar power and waves. Hayes and Roth also touted Oregon’s existing infrastructure of high-tech firms, which will play a large role in renewable energy technology. Oregon’s large agriculture base also provides renewable energy through biofuel, an alternative fuel that is becoming more widely used.

According to Hayes, sustainable energy is currently a $1.4 billion industry in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Other speakers at the forum included local business owner Maui Meyer, who talked about how he has incorporated the renewable resource mindset into his restaurants and the design and construction of the New Yasui Building. Dave Riley, Mt. Hood Meadows general manager, talked about how the ski resort purchased “green tags” — certificates which certify the use of renewable energy — to offset seven percent of its electric costs this year. Meadows also helped get other Northwest ski areas involved in renewable energy programs. Jaimes Valdez of Bonneville Environmental Foundation talked about green tags and other business incentive programs for renewable energy, and Tod LeFevre of Common Energy spoke about solar power use in homes and businesses locally.

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