Community energy meets crowdfunding: Community members can support future solar expansion by establishing a revolving loan fund for solar installations on public facilities
For Immediate Release
May 15, 2013
Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Portland Parks & Recreation
Portland City Council voted today to accept funds from the Oregon Community Foundation's (OCF) Penstemon Fund in the amount of $100,000. The acceptance of these grant funds will enable the installation of a solar electric system at Portland Parks & Recreation's (PP&R) Southwest Community Center (SWCC) and will provide an opportunity for a wider range of Portlanders to engage in the expansion of clean local energy production.
“This $100,000 grant from the Penstemon Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation will allow us to install our first 'community solar' system, which will give an opportunity to renters and others who want to do their part to promote renewable energy, but can’t install a system on their own homes or apartments,” said Susan Anderson, director, City of Portland Planning and Sustainability (BPS).
OCF has provided grant funds to ‘kickstart’ construction of the first system at SWCC, but the goal of this pilot is to raise community contributions that will go into a revolving, community solar fund. Within six years, the community solar fund will be able to finance the installation of a second system. If the program works as planned, the community solar fund could run in perpetuity.
Community contributors will have the option of making a straight donation to the fund or they can elect to receive all of their funds back at the end of 6 years. In return, all of the contributors receive permanent recognition at the host site and the feel-good benefit of ‘paying it forward.’
Partners in this effort include Portland Parks & Recreation, Solar Oregon, SW Neighborhoods, Inc. and the City’s solar installation contractor, EC Company. Due to current utility regulations in Oregon, community contributors are not able to receive their electricity or a bill credit for the energy generation from this installation.
“One of Portland Parks & Recreation’s primary missions is to be stewards of our environment,” notes PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. “The new solar panels will generate clean power and lower carbon emissions, which are stated goals in both the City of Portland’s 2009 Climate Action Plan and PP&R’s current Strategic Plan. We are excited to partner with BPS. Without this grant and their efforts, this project wouldn’t be feasible.”
SWCC is offsetting a portion of their electricity consumption with clean power generation that will lower community carbon emissions. This helps Portland meet carbon reduction goals as outlined in the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s Climate Action Plan.
Community solar represents a new addition to Portland’s tools for transforming the local market for solar energy. Community solar is intended to make participation in the installation of PV systems available and accessible to a wider, more diverse audience of Portlanders, including renters, homeowners with shaded properties, and those wanting to fund PV in smaller increments than a typical residential system.
Follow this project at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/communitysolar or call Andria Jacob at 503-823-7616.