September 2019 Newsletter
Oregon Selected for $1 Million Federal Grant for Renewable Energy Study
The Oregon Department of Energy, working with the Department of Land Conservation & Development and the Institute for Natural Resources, developed a renewable energy study proposal for consideration by the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment earlier this year. Last month, we learned that our proposal was successful, and we've been selected for a $1,075,258 grant for the study.
We expect to see continued renewable energy development in Oregon in the coming decades, particularly solar energy, wind energy, off-shore wind, and associated transmission line development. Developing these energy resources involves balancing issues related to natural resources, land use, environmental impacts, noise concerns, and cultural and archaeological artifacts (among others) through processes at the federal, state, and local levels.
Renewable energy and transmission projects also have effects on military training areas in Oregon and adjoining states, and may have a potential future effect on necessary military uses. These could include radar interference from wind facilities, low-level flight obstructions from tall structures such as wind turbines, electromagnetic interference from high-voltage transmission lines, and glare from solar photovoltaic arrays near airfields. Meanwhile, there are parts of the state that have substantial renewable energy resources and facility potential, and local governments have benefited from increased tax base and local economic growth through renewable energy project development.
The grant will offer an opportunity for us to collect information about locations for current and future renewable energy and transmission development, and build an understanding of the constraints and opportunities that come with specific locations. We can use this information to continue to support compatible renewable energy growth and economic development. We'll work with our partners to complete compatibility assessments, review and analyze permitting processes, develop an online mapping tool, and more. Stay tuned in the coming months for more on this exciting project.
ODOE Launches Strategic Planning Effort
As we mentioned in last month's newsletter, the Oregon Department of Energy is developing a new Strategic Plan – and we want your input! Please participate in this online survey to share your views about ODOE's future (it should take about 15 minutes to complete). Visit our website for updates, and stay tuned to this newsletter for future opportunities to participate.
Final Round of Renewable Energy Development Grants Announced
On September 10, we announced 19 recipients of about $1.6 million in Renewable Energy Development Grant funds for projects less than 300 kilowatts. Two awarded grants are for small hydropower projects – the remaining 17 are for solar. Visit our blog for more info and to see the full list of awardees.
This round of RED Grants is the final set under the program. Since 2012, we've awarded over $9 million to 92 renewable energy projects across Oregon, including 84 solar installations, one geothermal project, three biogas facilities, and four hydropower projects.
This EV Went to Market
The Oregon Department of Energy hosted a small electric vehicle showcase at the Salem Saturday Market on September 21 for National Drive Electric Week. It was a hit! We enjoyed connecting with Oregonians to talk about EV models, increased battery range, charging infrastructure, and available incentives. We keep a current list of federal, state, and local EV incentives on our Go Electric Oregon website. Do you know about an incentive we missed? Please drop us a line to let us know!
September is National Preparedness Month
Emergencies like severe weather, wildfire, or a major earthquake could happen at any time. If the power goes out – for an hour, a day, maybe a month – are you prepared? A few simple actions can help Oregonians become better prepared if the lights go out. Find tips on our blog, and learn more about the Oregon Department of Energy's safety and resilience programs on our website.
Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program
As we mentioned last month, ODOE staff are working hard to implement HB 2618, which created a new solar and energy storage rebate program at our agency. We have launched a rulemaking process to develop administrative rules for the program, including stakeholder meetings to gather input on drafting rules, as well as a public hearing on the rules this fall. Follow the process on our website, or sign up to receive email notices about how to get involved. The new rebate program will be up and running in early 2020.
ODOE Travels to Washington, D.C.
Last week, ODOE Director Janine Benner and Robin Freeman, our Associate Director for Government Relations, traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Oregon’s Congressional delegation and others about the work ODOE is doing for the state. The Congressional delegation and U.S. Department of Energy officials were especially interested in hearing about what Oregonians are doing on energy efficiency, electric vehicles, renewable natural gas, and resilience.
Reports From Around the Agency
On September 16, ODOE presented to the Senate Interim Committee on Environment and Natural Resources during September Legislative Days. Our Emergency Preparedness Manager, Deanna Henry, discussed the Oregon Fuel Action Plan's relationship to the "critical energy infrastructure hub" in Portland, which houses much of Oregon's petroleum supply. You can watch the presentation online.
ODOE Director Janine Benner and Federal Projects Coordinator Sean Mole also presented to the Senate Interim Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to discuss the state's permitting process for the proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas facility and associated pipeline near Coos Bay. Watch ODOE's presentation, followed by fellow state agency updates.
On September 17, ODOE Director Janine Benner joined Governor Brown for a ceremonial signing of SB 98, which will allow Oregon utilities to acquire renewable natural gas on behalf of their customers. A 2018 ODOE study noted that Oregon could have enough RNG resources to replace up to 20 percent of the state's yearly use of natural gas.
The Zero Emission Vehicle Interagency Working Group, a collaborative of state agencies focused on implementing Oregon's zero emission vehicle goals, held a public meeting in Portland on September 27 to provide an update on ZEV targets and to gather feedback about barriers to EV adoption. Learn more about the ZEVIWG's work on our website.
Speaking of EVs: as of September 1, 2019, Oregon has 27,236 registered electric vehicles on our roads. More than 1,000 EVs were added during the month of August! Track our progress on the Go Electric Oregon website.
Ken Niles, ODOE Assistant Director for Nuclear Safety and Emergency Preparedness, flagged an important milestone reached in the Hanford Nuclear Site clean-up efforts. The Tri-City Herald shared that workers removed the last of the highly radioactive sludge stored in containers near the Columbia River. Learn more about ODOE's work with the Hanford Site on our website.