Fall 2017 Forum

The Changing Energy Landscape in the Pacific Northwest

September 29th, 2017

Montgomery Park, 2701 NW Vaughn St, Portland, OR 97210

Vinh Mason, Green Building Policy Coordinator, CoP – Local Climate Action

Vinh spoke about the changes in building energy performance in the Portland-area over the past decades, and what economic, political and social events initiated those changes.

Portland has a “Legacy of Leadership”  that started  back in the 60s to provide positive changes for the City, including air quality, public open spaces, etc, which led to social responsibility in the community, which now includes solar panels on homes, and carbon reduction strategy for commercial buildings. 

CoP is collecting data from 2016 usage to compare to 1990 usage.  Results:

·         11% less home energy

·         29% fewer gal gas per capita

·         7% more bikers

·         Carbon emissions in Multnomah Co have dropped 21%, even though population has grown 35%

Currently within City limits:

·         ~4000 solar systems installed

·         250 certified green projects

·         400 eco roofs

·         $7M saved each year on City’s energy bills

The City of Portland has three objectives: Reduce total energy use of all buildings before 2030 by 25%; Achieve zero-net carbon emissions in all; Supply 50% of energy used in buildings by renewable energy sources.  City uses EPA’s Energy Star reporting to measure performance of all commercial businesses in the City, 50k SF–20k SF.  To date, close to 90% compliance—almost 1,000 bldgs reported.  The free onlineDOE Asset Score tool used in concert with Energy Star can inform more specifically where opportunities in your buildings may lie by helping energy managers to target improvement areas.  Later this year the City will be mapping the info so users can see it graphically on its now-downloadable online report. 

Fun fact: Portland buildings built in the 1910s-1920s are now performing better than most buildings constructed afterward. 

Looking forward: 2030 Challenge includes voluntary reporting through the USGBC. Also, reference City Resolution 37289.  See www.portlandoregon.gov/bps


Tom Haymaker, Clark PUD, Manager of Wholesale Energy Planning and Operations – Clean  Air Rule (for Washington State)

Clean Air Rule, under State Department of Ecology’s Clean Air Act, means that any organizations responsible for CO2 are required to cap output and ramp down emissions 30% over 18 years (=1.7%/yr, measured each 3 years).  This includes targeted industries: natural gas procurers, petroleum product producers, refineries, metal and cement producers, pulp makers, power plants, and waste facilities.  Though not in play right now, DR, DSG, EE and storage are all opportunities to help meet this rule. 

Washington’s Clean Air Rule is meeting challenges right now with lawsuits and arguments against its authority, and with WA state’s history of not passing past carbon taxes.  The rate of industry change also stretches Clark PUD’s ability to react. 


Matt Babbits, Clark PUD, Energy Services PM – Community Solar

Clark PUD’s Residential Community Solar program has been a surprisingly successful offering—so successful in fact, that the State had to rein in incentives for applicants, which now endangers the future of the program. 

The initial program included installing 75kW arrays, and selling investment portions of each panel to customers.  Installed panel cost was $1,200ea—too pricey for any individual, so CPUD broke each investment up into (12) $100 “units.”  A participant could purchase as many units as they wish and pay up-front or amortized over time.  Washington State offered a participant incentive of $1.08 per kW (with $5,000 cap), which appears as a retail-rate credit on the bill.  Return on investment for participants (state incentive + energy credit) was almost 200% through 2035. 1st project sold out in 7 hrs;  2nd project sold out in 3 days;  3rd project in 10 days;  4th project in 23 days.  Now has waiting list for project 5. 

The incentive has now been capped at 50%, which means that going forward participants will recuperate 90% of their cost. 

Clark started that program with team members Bonneville Environmental Foundation, NW SEED, and inter-departmental stakeholders.


Amy Nagy and Shelly, Prosper Portland (formerly PDC) -- Property Fit.

Property Fit provides financing for energy renovations and new construction.  Prove what strategies you plan to use, and Property Fit will help reduce the property manager’s up front capital.  Helps close tough projects and add scope to existing projects. 


Roger Ebbage, Director Energy Management, Lane Community College.

A long-time energy efficiency program proponent, and director of the energy management program at Lane College, Roger has trained many in our professional community to learn the trade and find meaningful work.  In addition to teaching, he champions a CEM program for post-certificate training. Right now the Controls sector is the fastest growing, and Lane is now certifying technicians to expand their knowledge.  However, enrollment is foundering: if more students do not show interest in the class, it will go away, which could have a detrimental effect for professionals in our industry as no new technicians will be trained and introduced into the field.  This could affect all of us.  Roger made a plea to endorse the program to improve enrollment and ensure upcoming professionals. 

Jeni Hall, ETO, Sr Project Manager, Solar programs -- Solar Trends and Policy in Oregon

Cost of solar installation has dropped 65% over the past decade.  Number of proposed solar projects could reach 10MW this year, up from almost nothing in 2007. 

Gov’t incentives: though RETC has gone away (for now), the ETO, Federal, and special groups’ programs still exist. 

Increasing new technology: solar + storage.


·         Vinh Mason, Green Building Policy Coordinator, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

·         Tom Haymaker, Manager Energy Planning and Operations, Clark Public Utilities

·         Matt Babbitts, Energy Services Project Manager, Clark Public Utilities


Vinh Mason

Tom Haymaker

Matt Babbitts