Monday, December 7, 2009

An End of Rebates, A New Job for Rebate Organizations

If we secure the needed investment funding in Oregon, weatherization retrofits will become just a matter of conscience and cause, with all qualifying projects funded interest-free. A flood of work will be released. Organizations employing power through handout of rebates, will be reinvented. They will find plenty of work in supervising the qualification of projects, and supervising the just conduct of the large amount of work yet to be done, to stop being a wasteful nation.

I don't think homeowners not on the edge, ever needed rebates as cause for action. It was just a matter of fairness. To not miss out on money a more clever or careful person might find. Kind of like the bargaining for low air fare. We never minded contributing to survival of our needed carrier. We just didn't want to pay more than someone else.

Now, some who have drawn rebate money as a permanent drain of the Public Purpose Fund, might wish to reinvest their energy savings to help others. That 3% tax on utility bills should accumulate hereafter, being let out only on interest-free loan. If the fund is a growing pool, it will not be seen as available for other government needs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Clean Energy Works Portland

Oregon has a very promising young politician, State Representative Jules Kopel-Bailey, serving Inner Southeast Portland neighborhoods. Through his leadership, Oregon has a new initiative for enabling weatherization in homes, enacted as the Clean Energy Fund. Listen to a Podcast here, where goals are simply expressed, in an interview conducted by Jesse Jenkins, of The Energy Collective.

Here is the enacting legislation , HB 2626 of the 2009 Oregon legislative session.

And, here is a longer "C-Engrossed" version.

Progress in this plan is at a snail pace. Here is a small public enactment within City of Portland, as Clean Energy Works. A pilot program has expired. There is nothing to apply for. Where is the commitment to action? There was one publicity posting of a pilot project in The Oregonian, as presented online here. Newer OregonLive posts brag of the pilot program.

The City of Portland is directing action at benefiting contractors, with delegation through Energy Trust of Oregon, to empower largest contractors or to low-skill general contractors who employ home performance testers, and subcontract work for profit. Everything should empower the people in need, to simply qualify projects, and do work themselves, or choose their own contractors. The big-guy testing is rarely useful in qualifying work, and is contrary to service where a conflict of interest is established. All testing should be impartial, by other organizations.

The public deserves stronger action now. This isn't about jobs. It is about getting investments done, with rapid payback in energy conservation. I think there is a special need to motivate and enable owners of rental property, where tenants suffer for lack of insulation or a crummy old furnace. Let the no-interest enabling money go to contractors and materials suppliers on behalf of, and in the service, of tenants. In an owner-occupied home, savings from lowered utility costs repay the loan. An owner of rental property will find means to pay off a ten-year loan. Up-front money is harder, and the tenants, and The Earth, suffer.

I am proud of the former Oregon State Representative for my neighborhood, now US Senator, Jeff Merkley, who offers the up-front weatherization financing nationwide, in Bill S. 1574. Oregon proudly followed British Columbia, with our Bottle Bill. This action is far more important. It WILL empower work more effectively than after-expense incentive payments. Please see more about association with HB2626, here.

I want to be part of debates in Oregon where the legislation is acted-upon, as required, by Oregon's Department of Energy, for ALL residents.