In May of 2014, the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition organized a community-wide meeting attended by around 100 people with the intent to bring together all of the experts from the major electric and gas utilities, nonprofits, and business and community members to pool their experience, knowledge and resources.

The goal was to provide energy efficiency tips and incentives for the benefit of all Douglas County residents and do it in a way that was easy to access and understand. Five years later, the list of accomplishments is impressive.

  • With the help of funding partners like the Ford Family Foundation and the Energy Trust of Oregon, DC Smart Energy engaged two RARE volunteers who made numerous energy efficiency presentations throughout Douglas County and opened communications, fostering relationships with various county and city officials.
  • Smart Energy members also continue to speak with county and city officials about the prospect of locating electric vehicle charging stations. Officials are dealing with a “chicken and egg” scenario in deciding which should come first; the vehicle-created demand for chargers or an established system of chargers in advance of the growing trend.
  • DC Smart Energy hosted Energize Rogue, who conducted a very successful ductless heat pump campaign. As if the heat pump energy savings wasn’t enough, a series of educational presentations, a volume discount for purchased units, combined with tax credits and electric utility incentives made for hundreds of very successful installations and happy consumers.
  • Solar projects in Douglas County continue to grow as various grants have enabled solar installations on many rooftops, including Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center and FISH Food Pantry. As solar equipment improves, the cost continues to come down.
  • The annual Earth Day/Energy Fair continues its popularity at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Again, combining energy efficiency, solar opportunities and information about bio-diesel, recycling and electric vehicles, creates an “efficient” resource for making a variety of helpful consumer information available all in one place.
  • Given the Douglas County event this last February, the issue of resiliency as it relates to power, along with preparedness, are areas that have come to the forefront. Generator safety, backup heat and water, communications and basic survival were presented by Douglas County’s Tamara Howell. Everyone agrees that most can be better prepared for whatever comes next, whether it be snow, flooding or a seismic event. This subject will be included in DC Smart Energy’s strategic plan and educational arsenal.
  • The combination of efficient building practices and solar energy is promoted and exhibited in the annual “Smart Energy Green and Solar Tour” coming Oct. 5. For more information about the tour, please call 541-672-9819 or go to solartoursignup@gmail.com.

The areas of primary focus will continue to revolve around energy efficiency, electric vehicle opportunities, solar power and community involvement and education. Regular monthly meetings hosted by Douglas Electric Cooperative and a growing group of active participants continue to explore ways to help consumers make the most of their energy dollar.

Todd C. Munsey is the Member Services Director for Douglas Electric Cooperative. This column is a monthly feature of Douglas County Smart Energy, a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit dcsmartenergy.org.

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