May 1, 2018

Multnomah County observed Earth Month throughout April, and as part of the celebration, Chair Deborah Kafoury hosted a forum, “Ensuring Energy Efficiency Benefits the Entire Community,” on April 9th, 2018. The forum was the fourth event within a six-part series of discussions centered around achieving the goal of decarbonizing the County’s energy systems by the year 2050. The series, “Pathways to 100% Renewable,” is co-sponsored by Multnomah County, the City of Portland, and the three local utility companies, Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, and Northwest Natural.

Chair Kafoury was joined by a panel of expert speakers from the community, including Sherrie Pelsma from the Community Energy Project, Eron Riddle from NAYA, David Heslam from Earth Advantage, and Michael Colgrove from the Energy Trust of Oregon. Panelists shared their experiences and insights on the benefits energy efficiency can have within our community, and specifically focused on what is and is not working, as well as how we can work together to ensure that energy efficiency programs better serve the most vulnerable members in Multnomah County.

In Oregon, energy efficiency has long been recognized as the most cost-effective energy resource available. As a result, huge investments in energy efficiency have been made within the state and has positively impacted the economy, including low utility rates as a result of the avoided cost of building additional power plants. The benefits of energy efficiency, however, have not been evenly distributed as many low-income Oregonians continue to pay a much larger share of their income in utility bills and are more likely to live in inefficient homes. “We all depend on energy to heat our homes and move us around,” said Chair Kafoury, “but for some, the costs of energy are seldom considered, while others are faced with a choice of heating their home or putting food on the table.”

The speakers touched on strategies that are addressing this gap, including critical home repair programs coupled with weatherization, better building standards, low-to-no-cost interventions for multi-family housing, and improved incentive structures to reach more families.

The presentations can be downloaded below.

Eron Riddle Presentation (1.05 MB)

David Heslam Presentation (623.65 KB)

Michael Colgrove Presentation (1.08 MB)

Sherrie Pelsma Presentation (1.6 MB)

David Heslam, of Earth Advantage, answers a question

Sherrie Pelsma from the Community Energy Project gives her presentation