Portland Clean Energy Fund Explained

Portland Clean Energy Fund Explained

A vision for a future with clean and renewable energy and other sustainable investments united the communities of Portland with a collective aim of improving livelihood in terms of shelter, employment, and income. This led to the creation of a Fund for cleaner energy resources for the underserved communities It is known as the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF).

What is the Portland Clean Energy Fund?

The PCEF initiative controls inequalities by allocating resources to Portlanders who are highly impacted by climate change and includes people of color and low-income residents. The coalitions by communities which led to the creation of the ballot measure are working along with the city of Portland for the implementation of an exclusive program that reflects the agreement of Portland voters. The completed program will launch the grant awards by July 2020.  

Created by Measure 26-201 (a local ballot measure), the PCEF predicts to bring in a revenue of $54 to $71 million for green jobs and healthy homes for Portlanders. The initiative implementation aims to support economic and social reforms for the residents of the city of Portland and the formation of a skilled and diverse workforce and developments in the field of clean energy. The PCEF is vested in the belief of a community-led vision with justice and equality in order to create flexibility and ample opportunities.

Priorities of the PCEF

The Portland Clean Energy Fund allocates a specific portion to three major areas: clean energy funding, job training programs, and green infrastructure projects to prepare groups that are highly prone to the effects of climate change. The goal entails reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent and shifting to 100 percent renewable energy. A 1 percent surcharge on the sales of large retailers is the primary source of funding.

The Fund uses several programs to fulfill the following policies:

  1. Clean Energy Projects: including renewable energy, regenerative agriculture and green infrastructure for the benefit of low and middle income individuals and non profits.

  2. Clean Energy Jobs Training: contractor support initiatives prioritizing the development of economically disadvantaged communities of color, women, the underemployed, and differently abled persons.

  3. Clean Energy Programs: both reduce greenhouse gases and promote economic, social and environmental benefits.

Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Committee

The Portland Clean Energy Fund Community Benefits Committee has nine members comprised of experts and community members. This committee makes recommendations  to the Mayor and City Council for the best way to utilize the funding and achieve the overarching goals of the program. The members of this committee  highlights the racial, economic and ethnic diversity in Portland.

Secondly, it should include at least two representatives from East of 82nd Avenue to ensure geographical diversity. Lastly, the members must be well-versed and experienced about the programs supported by the PCEF. The City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability looks after the staff employed for the Fund.

The committee’s funding suggestions are approved by the City Council through a public process that ensures transparency before the funds are allocated. The committee will further scrutinize and comment on the effectiveness of the programs and the status of the overall goals of the initiative. The Portland Clean Energy Fund would be subject to an annual financial audit and a twice-a-year performance audit.

Reducing the Cost of Living Using Solar Power

The Fund was set up in order to reduce living costs for low and middle income families by offering extra financial incentives and access to unique financing opportunities. A percentage of the funding is also used to help create jobs and job training programs in the clean energy industry for women and people of color who currently have a low representation in the clean energy economy in Portland The PCEF encourages clean energy solutions that support community-based development and helps Portlanders that are in extreme distress, thus making this Fund a unique initiative. Additionally, it provides aid to those families that do not earn enough to qualify for energy rebates and tax credits.  

Energy Trust v. Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund

Energy Trust is the provider of Oregon solar incentives and support for solar power and energy upgrades in households to the highest level but does not include climate change and social justice in its purview. The Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund will support the issues that fall out of the scope of the Energy Trust, thus adding on to the dollars from the Energy Trust incentives.

After the expiration of the Oregon Department of Energy’s Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program in 2017, the Fund has promised to provide a stable, long term funding to its sustainability programs and allow low-income residents and renters access to upgrades that will help in decreasing their energy expenses.

How Can I Take Advantage Today?

Right now, we are in the last year of rule-making and implementation for PCEF. If you are a community organization, a housing development organization, or a non profit now is a great time to start to understand what opportunities exist to install solar panels or take energy efficiency measures on your property.

Energy Trust of Oregon has a great program called the Solar Design Assistance (SDA) grant that allows non profits to request a detailed solar analysis for a site. The grant covers 90% of the cost of a solar feasibility study. Typical out of pocket costs for a non profit for a feasibility study will range from $200-$1,000. This is a great first step.

With a feasibility study in hand that outlines your opportunities in extensive detail you will be poised to take advantage of the PCEF funding when it becomes available.

Sign up here for a 15 minute phone consultation to determine if your organization is eligible for this feasibility study grant and take the first step towards affordable clean energy.