ENERGIZE! Douglas County: The campaign is now under way
By Melanie Mackinnon
“When I decided to make my home more energy efficient, I had hoped to save a few dollars. But this has far exceeded my expectations. It is a blessing to my family.” Rob Trotter of Roseburg wants everybody in Douglas County to know the financial benefits of energy efficiency.
Inspired by examples such as this, Douglas County Smart Energy, a coalition of nonprofits, the major utilities, businesses and citizen advocates have officially launched their energy efficiency campaign — ENERGIZE! Douglas County. Under the guidance of AmeriCorps RARE volunteer Nicole Mandall, the campaign will reach out to no less than eight communities in the county, highlighting ways to save energy and money, often at little or no cost.
“It is an exciting time to realize there are so many financial incentives out there and the return is well worth it,” Mandall said. “I want to get the message out to as many people as possible.”
A town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Brocks Rack in conjunction with the Myrtle Creek Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from Energy Trust of Oregon and Douglas Electric Cooperative will be on hand to answer questions and share information on the best ways to save energy and money. The incentives are available regardless of income.
“No matter which utility company you have,” Mandall said, “there is something for everybody. And depending on the utility company, incentives can cover lighting, appliance, insulation and heating. With energy bills climbing in the winter months, it can all make a difference.”
Mandall added that for a limited number of households, energy audits will be available to help figure out how to get the best bang for your buck.
“For me, when my home was not energy efficient, I kept it uncomfortably cold just to save money,” said Trotter. He went on to mention that keeping the house so cold led to an unhealthy living condition.
Upgrades to Trotter’s home included sealing of air leaks, weather stripping doors, insulating pipe, insulating the attic and insulating wall cavities. Based on analysis of his energy performance report, Trotter is looking at savings of around $600 a year. Beyond the monetary savings, he said he is happy to now have a home that meets his energy and health needs!
Mandall said the campaign of Douglas County Smart Energy is a broad based community effort. Beginning as a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition, it includes Pacific Power, Douglas Electric Cooperative, Avista Utilities, Energy Trust of Oregon, United Community Action Network, Neighborworks Umpqua, Newcastle Solar and numerous businesses and interested citizens. For the past two and a half years, the group has circulated the message of energy saving and renewable energy through its website and monthly columns in The News-Review.
Mandall was hired last fall to plan the campaign.
“I was raised in a small rural community in Georgia, so I know how important it is to work together to make the most of available resources,” she said.
Promoting energy saving is only one part of the campaign. Douglas County Smart Energy has joined with four other rural communities across the state to apply for a federal grant to bring the benefits of solar energy to low and moderate income households.
Douglas County Smart Energy is also taking advantage of the growing trend toward electric vehicles. The group has applied to Volkswagen for money to install electric charging stations in and around Roseburg. It is also working closely with Pacific Power on long range plans to install electric changing stations throughout the state.
“When it comes to energy savings and renewable energy these are exciting times,” Mandall said. “And I am thrilled to be part of it.”
For more information on the campaign or how to participate, contact Mandall at 678-848-5618 or by email at Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Myrtle Creek Town Hall
Where: Brocks Rack (Chamber of Commerce meeting), 864 S. Main St, Myrtle Creek
When: 6 p.m., Thursday
Melanie MacKinnon is an independent consultant providing energy and grant writing services. For tips on other ways to save and produce energy, visit dcsmartenergy.org. Douglas County Smart Energy is a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information about the Coalition, call 541-672-9819, or find them on Facebook at DCSmartEnergy.