February 2018 Newsletter

Now Accepting Applications for Renewable Energy Development Grants

ODOE’s Renewable Energy Development Grant program is currently accepting applications. We have approximately $2 million available for projects that generate renewable energy in Oregon.

Qualified systems must produce electrical energy from a renewable resource such as biomass, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, landfill gas, biogas, or wave, tidal, or ocean thermal energy. Grants are capped at $250,000 per system and may not exceed 35 percent of the project cost.

The RED program has a two-tier system, so similarly-sized projects compete together. About $500,000 in RED Grant funds will go to projects sized up to 300 kW (AC). Another $1.5 million will be allocated to projects greater than 300 kW (AC).

As we’re reviewing and scoring projects, we evaluate criteria such as amount of energy generated, job creation, community benefits, and more. New for this round: points will also be awarded for projects that are designed with resiliency in mind. Renewable systems that are capable of supplying electricity when the larger grid is unavailable – due to extreme weather or other emergencies – will earn more points.

This is our seventh round of RED Grants. Previous recipients include Oregon businesses, agricultural producers, manufacturers, public entities, and nonprofit agencies – with projects ranging from solar arrays to hydropower systems to biogas facilities. We interviewed one of our recipients, Coyote Trails school, on our Grounded podcast. Give it a listen! 

Applications are due by April 2, 2018, and will be checked for completeness before going through a competitively-scored review. We’re collecting questions we’ve received from potential applicants and will post the resulting Q&A on our website by March 5. Want more details? Check out the full opportunity announcement here.

The Latest on Emergency Prep at ODOE

Yesterday, Oregon Department of Energy staff worked with partners from Oregon and Washington state agencies, federal and local governments, regional experts, and the Columbia Generating Station in Richland, Washington, for our first nuclear emergency exercise of 2018.

These exercises are no small affairs: they involve teams from across the region working together to simulate the state’s response to a nuclear incident. For yesterday’s drill, we launched the Agency Operations Center here in Salem and had staff working on-site at the Columbia Generating Station in Richland. We also had representatives from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Agriculture on the ground in Morrow and Umatilla counties practicing how they would sample and monitor air, water, soil, and vegetation if radioactive material were released.

ODOE has a long-standing role in nuclear safety oversight, dating back to the development of the Trojan Nuclear Plant in Columbia County. In addition to the nuclear experts we have on staff, we work closely with the Oregon Health Authority’s Radiation Protection Services and Oregon State University’s Radiation Center. For yesterday’s drill, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were on hand to provide input and recommendations.

Also on the emergency planning front, earlier this month, ODOE senior planner Deanna Henry presented in front of the Senate Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness on the development of the state’s Fuel Action Plan. ODOE released the Fuel Action Plan in 2017 following extensive collaboration with stakeholders. Watch her presentation here.

New to the ODOE Website: An Interactive Map of State Jurisdictional Energy Facilities

We are constantly looking for ways we can improve the information and resources we offer on the ODOE website. Even better: when that information is presented in user-friendly ways that leverage good technology.

To that end, today we launched a new web-based map that helps people learn more about energy facilities across Oregon that contribute to our diverse energy mix. The map shows the range of facilities under Energy Facility Siting Council jurisdiction. Map users can sort by resource type, facility size, and more, with details that previously were only available in large PDF versions of each facility’s lengthy application. We’re thrilled to offer this level of detail through the click of a mouse.

We hope this new website feature helps Oregonians connect more easily with our projects, and we look forward to building in more features down the line. Got ideas for how we can better present information online? We’d love your feedback.

An Official Welcome to Director Benner + We’re Hiring!

The February legislative session is winding down. So far, our major news from the 2018 session is the Senate confirmation of our new director, Janine Benner. You can watch Benner’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Rules, where she talks about her background and experience and her thoughts on the future of ODOE. She’s the first agency director who’s gone through the Senate confirmation process.

With Janine at the helm, we’re now recruiting for her former position at our agency. Applications for the Assistant Director position overseeing our Energy Planning & Innovation division are due by March 13. We’re looking for someone with strong leadership and management experience who’s passionate about energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. If you’re a great communicator who enjoys working with diverse teams, please check out the job listing and consider joining our dynamic executive leadership team.


Wind Turbine

A little snow on the ground didn’t stop the Energy Facility Siting Council, ODOE staff, and stakeholders from gathering in Boardman last Friday for the latest EFSC meeting. The biggest takeaway from the meeting: the Council approved the site certificate for the Boardman Solar Energy Facility, the state’s first utility-scale solar project under EFSC jurisdiction.


Reports From Around the Agency

  • In March, energy siting staff will head to Lake County for a public informational meeting on the proposed Obsidian Solar Center, a new utility-scale solar project that will be considered by the Energy Facility Siting Council. The meeting will be held March 6 at 6 p.m. in Silver Lake; public comments on the notice of intent are due by March 9, 2018. More information is available on our website.
  • The Biennial Energy Report is moving along. The Legislature approved this new publication in 2017, and ODOE will deliver the first edition of the report to the Legislature in fall 2018. For the past few months, we’ve been meeting from stakeholders and soliciting public input. So far, we’ve heard from more than 300 people on what the report should include. Stay tuned for more updates, and sign up for report-specific email updates.
  • ODOE outreach of late has been focused on career fairs: we’ve attended three in the past month. In addition to hiring for the Policy & Innovation administrator position noted above, we’re also recruiting for several internships for spring and summer. Know a smart, savvy college or graduate student? Send him or her our way!
  • Speaking of outreach, we’ll also be out and about at community events this spring, including the Earth Day event at Oregon Gardens and Sunday Parkways in Portland. Do you take part in any fun outreach events in your community? Let us know! We welcome new opportunities to connect with Oregonians on energy issues.
  • Coming next month: the state of Oregon’s budget kick-off for state agencies. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services will give instructions to state agencies as we put together our draft Agency Request Budget for the 2019-21 biennium. Check out our budget page for a high-level overview of the state’s budget process. Really want to dig in? DAS includes budget process info and instructions on its website. And watch for additional updates from ODOE as we roll out our draft budget to stakeholders for input later this year.

UPCOMING  MEETINGS

Renewable Natural Gas Advisory Committee | March 6 | Portland

Obsidian Solar Center Public Information Meeting | March 6 | Silver Lake

Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board | March 19-20 | Mosier

Upcoming Rulemakings

 

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