In September 2016, I began my year-long RARE (resource assistance for rural environments) service term working with Douglas County Smart Energy. This group has a two-part mission:
- To promote energy efficiency throughout our community utilizing educational town hall meetings, social media and presentations to businesses and community groups.
- To promote and develop renewable energy options with an emphasis on community solar...offering low and moderate income households the opportunity to participate.
Upon my arrival, the group and I discussed how we would fulfill these goals and came up with the ENERGIZE! Douglas County campaign, which was launched in January 2017.
This campaign’s aim was to educate Douglas County citizens on the incentives available for renewable energy, the benefits of becoming energy efficient and to sign up energy pioneers willing to participate in a project that would show the end results of making energy efficient upgrades to homes in Douglas County.
It is now my great pleasure to report, as this first year of RARE is coming to a close, on all the progress we have been able to make through this educational effort plus other efforts that have developed over the past year.
- Educated over 350 low-income families on energy conservation measures through collaborations with the UCAN Head Start and WIC programs.
- Brought together guest speakers, professionals and utility experts for town hall talks around Douglas County (including Roseburg, Reedsport, Winston, Myrtle Creek, Canyonville, Oakland and Elkton), educating over 125 additional residents on energy efficiency measures, while also making them aware of utility and Energy Trust of Oregon incentives and rebates.
- Distributed over 220 energy-saving LEDs and Smart Strips to community members.
- Recruited 12 homeowners to be part of a Baseline Energy Profile for Douglas County (four of which are UCAN weatherization costumers)...a multi-year commitment that will assess energy usage before, during and after energy efficient upgrades are implemented. As part of the project, the RARE volunteer will also have regular consultations with homeowners to provide energy-related support. The end result will show the benefits of energy efficiency for a broad spectrum of the county.
- Held “Energy Education Classes” at UCAN offices for their energy assistance clientele, educating over 30 participants on ways to become responsible and independent in their energy usage and conservation.
- Collaborated with a network of rural towns in Oregon, meant to make renewable energy feasible outside of urban centers.
- Collaborated on and obtained the Sunshot: Solar in Your Community Challenge, a multi-city grant which will be used to research and eventually install 300 kilowatts of community solar projects in Douglas County, Hood River and Lake County. A goal of 135 kilowatts for Douglas County alone.
- Worked with local media sources to spread the word on energy conservation and renewables. Helped produce and publish a monthly op-ed for the local News-Review.
- Helped plan the 2017 Earth Day & Energy Fair, a 7-month collaboration with community members, organizations and officials that culminated in an Earth Day Fair that hosted over 50 vendors from around Douglas County in various fields (many of which were renewable energy related). Approximately 2,500 people attended the fair.
- Fostered a dialogue with local county and city government officials on Douglas County’s energy future.
With significant progress to date, DC Smart Energy and UCAN (as its fiscal agent) is well positioned to further its outreach in renewable energy and energy efficiency. To this end, we are pleased to announce that a second year of RARE has been awarded to Douglas County Smart Energy.
While I am sad to be saying goodbye to Douglas County, a place I have come to cherish, and friends I have come to love, the second year RARE volunteer will be joining the team in September 2017, ready to further all the efforts we have been working on so far! I look forward to seeing all the progress another year brings!
Nicole Mandall is a RARE volunteer working with DC Smart Energy and UCAN Weatherization as the Community Education Coordinator for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Douglas County. For tips on other ways to save and produce energy, visit dcsmartenergy.org. Douglas County Smart Energy is a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information, about the Coalition, call 541-672-9819 or find them on Facebook at DCSmartEnergy.
Originally Published in The News Review
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