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BPS News: New Solarize Guidebook: A tool for local governments and communities to pursue energy independence

For immediate release
9 February 2011

Christine Llobregat
City of Portland
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability


New Solarize Guidebook: A tool for local governments and communities to pursue energy independence

Community solar program “how-to” resource now available with help from the City of Portland and Energy Trust of Oregon

Portland, ORE. -- A new guidebook that shares best practices from recent volunteer-driven Solarize projects about volume purchasing of solar energy systems aims to help other communities grow clean energy programs and create family-wage jobs. The Solarize Guidebook, developed for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the City of Portland, is now available at:

Four Solarize Portland projects, plus efforts in Pendleton, Salem and other cities, have been completed since 2009. During each project, neighbors learn together the ins and outs of going solar - from how the technology works and finding a contractor to learning about available financing options such as Energy Trust of Oregon cash incentives and state and federal tax credits.

The guidebook features key elements of the Solarize campaigns in Portland, and offers several program variations from projects beyond Portland. The guidebook provides lessons, considerations, and step-by-step plans for project organizers who are looking to replicate a collective purchasing model.  

"From green building to urban farming, Portland is proving to be a living laboratory for urban sustainability in America," said Portland Mayor Sam Adams. "With the new first-of-its-kind Solarize guidebook, Portlanders are showing once again their enthusiasm for making sustainability easier, more convenient and more affordable. I hope and am confident that the lessons learned here in Portland will benefit neighborhoods and cities around the nation."

The City of Portland launched its first solar program in 2006 with the help of an award from the DOE Solar America Cities program. This grant provided funding for the creation of The Solarize Guidebook as part of the larger DOE effort to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner and more secure energy future.

"We are delighted to share the practical tools from the Solarize campaigns with local governments and community organizers," said Susan Anderson, director of the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. "The City of Portland, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America Cities program, is intent on continuing to develop creative approaches to increase market demand for solar. In addition, our bureau continues to help connect Portland's businesses and homeowners to resources and local solar contractors outside of the Solarize effort." 

About Solar America Cities 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has designated 25 major U.S. cities as Solar America Cities committed to accelerating the adoption of solar energy technologies. Best practices and lessons learned from the Solar America Cities are shared across the United States to help other communities replicate successes.  Visit Solar America Cities online at 

About National Renewable Energy Lab

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the nation's primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL's mission and strategy are focused on advancing the U.S. Department of Energy's and our nation's energy goals. The laboratory's scientists and researchers support critical market objectives to accelerate research from scientific innovations to market-viable alternative energy solutions. Learn more about NREL at

About Energy Trust of Oregon

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save nearly $600 million on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at or call 1-866-368-7878.

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

To create and enhance a vibrant city, BPS combines the disciplines of planning and sustainability to advance Portland’s diverse and distinct neighborhoods, promote a prosperous and low-carbon economy, and help ensure that people and the natural environment are healthy and integrated into the cityscape. BPS provides a forum for community engagement and education, and is a catalyst for action. With a city full of partners, BPS develops creative and practical solutions on issues as far ranging as comprehensive, neighborhood and environmental planning, urban design, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and solar technologies. This innovative, interdisciplinary approach strengthens Portland’s position as an international model of sustainable development practices and commerce.