In Spring 2011, the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, Jackson County, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, Geos Institute, Energy Trust of Oregon, and the City of Ashland kicked off a collaborative exploration of renewable energy opportunities in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Working together as the Renewable Energy Assessment Partnership, we contracted with the Good Company, in Eugene, Oregon, for a Regional Renewable Energy Assessment (REA) to evaluate the potential for renewable energy generation projects in the region.
The objective behind the assessment was to create a baseline study that would establish the degree of viability of different renewable energy technologies in our region; to provide technical support for future proposals for rewnable energy funding; and to generate a collaborative momentum and focus around specific technologies.
The assessment identified six renewable energy technologies that have potential here in the Rogue Valley:
Energy Efficiency: Conservation and energy efficiency represent the greatest potential for the Rogue Valley area over the next 20 years. There are many types of projects that are possible for all economic sectors such as weatherization, energy efficient lighting, heating/cooling systems, pumps and motors.
Solar Electric: Like energy efficiency, installing solar electric panels on rooftops has great potential in the Rogue Valley. Solar hot water systems also offer another opportunity.
Wind Power: One ridgeline was identified as promising in terms of potential resource, site access, and interconnection, but there may be significant challenges associated with land ownership, as the area is a mix of public and private lands. More study of this site will be required to determine final feasibility.
Direct-Fired Biomass: Biomass is already a significant source of electricity in the Rogue Valley. Existing generation capacity could theoretically be expanded, but is constrained by high feedstock acquisition costs, availability, and wholesale price of electricity. A second option is convering building boiler heating systems to run on biomass fuel.
Anaerobic Digestion (biogas): This technology uses existing organic wastes (i.e., food waste, yard waste and manure) to produce methane gas that can be used to generate electricity or as a vehicle fuel.
Hydroelectric: The greatest opportunity for this technology is incremental efficiency projects, such as adding electricity generation to existng flood control dams, water supply lines, or irrigation canals.
The next step for the project is to form Renewable Energy Working Groups (REWGs) for each of the technologies described above. The REWGs will create Action Plans for implementation of specific projects for each of the six renewable energy technologies. The goals are to encourage development of renewable energy in Jackson and Josephine Counties in a manner that:
Each of the REWGs will use the data and analysis of the REA as a launching pad for their work, and will evaluate opportunities for implementation of specific projects (e.g., demonstration projects, education projects, etc.) in their respective renewable energy technologies. For each recommended project, the Action Plans will: