Smart Energy: March 2018

Smart Energy: Small, distinct acts help us all prosper

All around us in Douglas County, small, distinct acts are helping us all grow and prosper as a community. You know a few of them yourself, coaches and teachers who go the extra mile or the unknown stranger who returns a lost wallet anonymously or lets you know your brake light is out.

It is easy to lose track of these moments when we see bad news locally or hear about another political scandal. Yet these good things keep piling up, and even if their individual impacts seems minor, their positive cumulative weight is significant.

At Pacific Power, we are trying to add our own small, distinct acts to helping further the greatness of Douglas County. We helped our Blue Sky customers make two significant grants to local organizations to build solar power arrays and reduce energy costs so they can focus more of their finances on their core missions.

The Tri-City Joint Water and Sanitary Authority in Myrtle Creek will use a $200,000 grant to install and operate a 287 kilowatt capacity solar project on land adjacent to its drinking water treatment plant. The authority serves about 4,000 residents and businesses in the area, supplying drinking water and treating waste water.

The project, planned to be complete by late summer, would supply the water treatment plant’s electrical needs, thereby saving a significant amount of cash that can be devoted to reducing overhead for water and sewer customers.

Saving Grace, Inc. is the only full service animal shelter in Douglas County. Since 2002, the nonprofit has operated the county animal shelter and has adopted out, transferred to another shelter or rescue, or returned to the owner over 28,000 pets.

The 43.2 kilowatt solar project made possible by the $130,000 grant will allow Saving Grace to save more than $5,000 per year in electric bills, and reduce its carbon paw print.

Neither of these are huge in the scope of things. But if you live in Myrtle Creek, you might have water and sewer bills a little lower than they might otherwise have been. And if you are looking to find a lost pet, or are looking to adopt one, that just got a little easier for the nonprofit making that happen in Douglas County.

The money to make these things happen came from Pacific Power customers, the ones who have chosen to show their commitment to renewable energy by paying a little extra each month to promote projects large and small. Blue Sky customers, more than 60,000 in Oregon, put their money toward purchasing renewable energy and support large scale renewable projects that might otherwise not be built. But some of their contributions go to local small scale energy projects like the ones just described.

The Douglas County projects are part of up to $1.1 million in new renewable energy investment in 2018, bringing more than 675 kilowatts of new renewable energy capacity online. Since 2006, Pacific Power Blue Sky customers have helped fund the installation of 101 community-based projects totaling 8.8 megawatts of renewable energy generation capacity, demonstrating the viability of renewable energy in their communities with more than $10 million in investment during that time.

Altogether, that is significant. But they all came as small projects, a local organization looking to improve its ability to serve a local community, the people they know and care about. We just helped that along, using our expertise in energy and the scope we enjoy as a regional power company with deep roots in more than 200 communities.

We at Pacific Power are there with you, bringing the support of thousands of customers from hundreds of miles away (or just down the street) to help improve people’s lives in simple direct ways — while encouraging renewable energy, which is helping us all in the long run.

This column is a monthly feature of Douglas County Smart Energy, a project of Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit