Like many resource-rich rural communities, Eastern Oregon faces increasing concerns from exporting coal through our region to China, to natural gas development and fracking in Malheur County. ORA is working broadly to both fight dirty energy and promote on-the-ground use of renewable energy by ordinary people today. We believe through grassroots work ORA members can change the energy conversation, the energy market and steer our communities from the dirty energy of the 20th century to the renewable energy future.
Drawing on the Energy Policy Position that members created in 2001, Oregon Rural Action has long supported small-scale community-based renewable energy development. The Board of Directors reaffirmed this position in 2010 amidst rising controversy throughout the rural West over mega wind farm projects. (Read their statement.)
Oregon Rural Action members are addressing climate change. Due in part to the testimonies and letters of our members, Oregon now has in place one of the most comprehensive Renewable Energy Standard in the nation. Many Eastern Oregon counties are already reaping the economic benefits of renewable energy development such as wind energy, biomass and biofuels production.
In 2007 Oregon Rural Action sponsored two community forums on residential solar hot water heating systems resulting in fourteen homes in Baker and Union counties converting their homes existing electric or gas hot water heaters to a solar.
In 2008 Oregon Rural Action took part in WORC’s Homegrown Prosperity Renewable Energy Tour, hosting a converted school bus that was painted green and ran on biodiesel. Members put on events in communities throughout Eastern Oregon to promote local foods, renewable energy, green construction, energy efficiency, and good paying jobs for rural areas.
Through our active Energy Team, members define the issues they want to work on and organize to shape our community. One of our major projects is Solarize Snake River Valley which was modeled after a sucessful Solarize Union County! This is a community-led bulk purchase campaign that provides a simple and affordable solution for homeowners to install solar thermal panels on their homes. With help from Union Wallowa Baker Federal Credit Union and Union County we can offer excellent financing opportunities specifically for this program. With the bulk purchase discount, combined with state and federal tax credits homeowners will receive installing a solar thermal system will be a fraction of the price.
We’ve now produced the first ever Eastern Oregon Energy Guide, designed to empower homeowners with the tools they need to become more energy efficient while including a directory of local businesses that can help you get there. We’re currently working on an Energy Smart Schools campaign that includes working with local schools to find effective and smart ways our schools can save money by reducing energy usage.
We’re always looking for new folks interested in these issues to join our Energy Team!