Bend reports on first year of energy-efficiency efforts

Council to hear Climate Action Resolution update

Bend reports on energyefficiency efforts

BEND, Ore. - (Update: More from fire department on its efforts)

The city of Bend is moving forward on an initiative to make the city more energy-efficient. It's offering an update to the city and councilors, a year after the city council adopted a climate action resolution that calls for a collective effort to improve the city's energy efficiency.

Chief among the short-term advantages is cost-reduction. It's no secret clean energy can cut energy use, but you may not know even little tweaks can save a lot of money.

"There are very near-term, real cost advantages that the city itself has seen in reducing its energy use, such as $30,000 a year we saved just from the small energy improvements we've made over the past few years," city Senior Policy Analyst Gillian Ockner said Tuesday.

In addition to the economic benefits, it's hard to ignore that 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree the earth is warming, and say that warming trends are "extremely likely" due to human activities -- still a controversial topic for many, to be sure.

The Bend Fire Department is doing its part. It's looking into solar power at its fire stations, which will help in the case of a citywide power outage.

"One of the motivating factors that we have is to be able to charge our phones and our radios so we can continue to respond to people's emergencies," Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe said.

Howe said it's important to take initiative to build trust with the community.

"If we can do the things we know will save taxpayers valuable money, we'll build the community trust and people will say, 'Hey, they're doing the best thing they can for us,'" Howe said.

The department is also installing LED bulbs at the station, which have more use than just saving money on energy.

"We have very tall ceilings in the fire station, so every time a guy has to go up and change a light bulb, he puts himself at risk," Howe said. "By putting LEDs in that last for 20 years, we reduce our risk of injury by many -old."

The fire department's administration building is also getting new LED bulbs.

But all that is only part of the challenge of getting energy-efficient. Twenty percent of Bend's energy use comes from city buildings. The other 80 percent is used by day-to-day operations.

To address the 80 percent, the city has several hybrid cars in its fleet. Also, officials are looking into planning transportation and land use to reduce the distance vehicles have to travel.

The city also wants to expand Cascades East Transit.

Here's the city's announcement Tuesday of progress made so far:

Energy Efficiency Progress Update

One year ago, the Bend City Council adopted a Climate Action Resolution calling for collective action to improve energy efficiency in Bend. You can access the resolution here.

A major component of the resolution was a goal to reduce fossil fuel use in the City’s own operations and buildings. Through analysis of our energy usage, the City determined that electricity and natural gas use make up the majority of our consumption of fossil fuel.

In the last few years, the City achieved a more than 10 percent reduction in electricity use in its facilities with existing staff resources and budgets, which has produced approximately $30,000 in annual savings for the City.

“We have achieved these results by fine-tuning our building systems and educating staff in energy efficiency practices, efforts that come at a very minimal cost,” said Facilities Manager Grant Burke.

The City’s facilities represent 20 percent of total City government electricity and natural gas use. Now the City wants to address the other 80 percent used to power systems such as water and sewer operations, with the help of an Energy Services Company and a strategic energy management plan.

Wednesday night at the City Council meeting (Info: the Council will hear updates on the City’s progress in implementing the resolution and next steps to “employ energy efficiency and fossil fuel reduction policies to guide City operations and growth plans,” an objective under one Council Goal for the 2017-2019 biennium. 

 The City will discuss its short-term and long-term plans to:

· Identify energy efficiency and fossil fuel use reduction opportunities within City operations and facilities

· Further integrate land use and transportation planning to reduce vehicle miles traveled and fossil fuel use community wide

· Support expansion of Cascades East Transit

· Seek funding for community climate action planning and engage the community in the process

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