County signals support for energy plan

MARLA HARVEY, county energy and sustainability coordinator, and John Roberts, community development director, tell the Hood River County Board of Commissioners about the energy plan.

Photo by Patrick Mulvihill
MARLA HARVEY, county energy and sustainability coordinator, and John Roberts, community development director, tell the Hood River County Board of Commissioners about the energy plan.

A renewable energy plan got a thumbs up from the Hood River County Board of Commissioners at last Tuesday’s general meeting.

The board passed a resolution demonstrating an organizational commitment to “promote a Hood River County Energy Plan.” Their action included minor changes to its text.

The non-binding energy plan creates a blueprint to help the community increase investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, achieve energy generation control, stability and price security, and provide emergency services.

It aims to help the region save on energy costs, become more resilient to rising prices and natural disasters, and create environmental and public health benefits.

Commissioners last heard a presentation on the plan in November, when they reviewed its first draft and suggested changes.

Commissioner Les Perkins, a member of the energy plan steering committee, voiced support.

“As local energy markets change, technologies change. We have to be trying to position ourselves so that we are in the best position to take advantage of energy market changes,” Perkins said.

Marla Harvey, county energy and sustainability coordinator, explained that the plan is community-wide and applies to the geographical area of Hood River County — not just the county government.

According to a staff report by John Roberts, community development director, “After collecting commissioner feedback and over 27 public comments, the (steering committee) made appropriate modifications to the plan. The committee would like to put the final (energy plan) before the commission and ask that they vote on a resolution demonstrating an organization commitment to promote the plan.”

Kate McBride, a Hood River city council member who serves on the energy plan committee, said even the process of moving toward the plan has drawn grant opportunities.

“We’re kind of on the forefront of people adopting these plans,” McBride said.

The resolution notes that the county teamed up with the cities and ports of Hood River and Cascade Locks, Energy Trust of Oregon, and Ford Family Foundation to assemble the plan’s steering committee.

The board decided via resolution to use the energy plan as a guiding document, following similar action by the City of Hood River and Port of Hood River.

Resolution text states three objectives:

• Reduce fossil fuel emissions related to energy use in Hood River County. Specifically, replace 30 percent, 50 percent, and 80 percent of power generated from fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy in buildings, water systems, and transportation by 2030, 2040 and 2050, respectively, as compared with 2016 levels.

• Improve resilience and energy independence. Specifically, generate half of the county's energy needs with local, diversified energy sources and storage capacity by 2050.

• Increase investment in locally produced power. Specifically, strategically develop and utilize $25 million in revolving funds by 2025 to enable local clean energy projects and create a business environment that supports the Hood River County Energy Plan goals.

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