Hood River County and five partner organizations involved in the development of the Hood River Energy Plan are working collaboratively to meet the ambitious goals of the plan.
An all-volunteer committee, known as the Hood River County Energy Council, is assessing potential projects — ranging from a community solar project to electrifying public vehicle fleets to bicycle infrastructure, according to a press release.
Residents are invited to meet with and talk to members of the Hood River County Energy Council on Friday, June 7 from 5-7 p.m. during the Gorge STEM Fair on Oak Street in downtown Hood River.
“When it comes to meeting the goals of the Energy Plan, everyone has something to gain and every decision counts” said Marla Harvey, energy coordinator.
“At the Gorge STEM Fair, families can lean more by talking to an energy council member or engaging in hands on activities, like do-it-yourself solar powered Christmas lights and transportation street art. You can even come away with a list of ways you can help meet our community goals and lower your bills in the process with materials and consultation from the Energy Trust of Oregon.”
In 2016, Hood River County invited local partners and stakeholders to jointly develop the Hood River County Energy Plan. Countless volunteers and partners spent hundreds of hours drafting the plan.
The plan sets community-wide energy reduction goals while also setting a goal to produce more renewable energy locally.
The Hood River County Commission, Hood River City Council, the Port of Hood River and the Port of Cascade Locks all adopted the Hood River County Energy Plan by resolution. In doing so, the agencies agreed to voluntarily work toward meeting the goals of the plan in a collaborative way.
Since adoption, the Hood River County Energy Council secured funding from Oregon foundations and local government agencies to hire Harvey as a full-time coordinator.
Harvey, who works with Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, coordinated the development of the Energy Council and its subcommittees, is overseeing the development of a two- to three-year work plan for the Energy Council, and is working with partners to assess numerous projects — such as a community solar project, electric-vehicle charging stations and clean energy back-up systems providing resilience to critical facilities.
“It’s exciting to be moving into the implementation phase of the Hood River Energy Plan. Energy use is our community’s biggest cost and biggest impact on the environment. This effort is a win-win for residents, businesses and local government,” said Becky Brun, former Hood River City Councilor and co-chair of the Hood River County Energy Council. “The plan was developed with a lot of community input and we welcome continued community participation — from sharing project ideas to success stories to funding opportunities.”
The Hood River County Energy Council serves as an advisory body to the agencies that adopted the Hood River County Energy Plan as well as to the citizens and public and private partners who are committed to helping Hood River County meet the goals of the plan in a collaborative way. Formed in March 2019, the 11-member council includes representatives from the adopting governing jurisdictions, as well as volunteers from the community.
Council members are working with stakeholders to advance the Energy Plan through fundraising, strategic planning and subcommittee work. The council openly invites partners and stakeholders to collaborate on energy projects and related opportunities.