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Council's decision will qualify Lake Oswego as a Green Power Community

Lake Oswego will join the cities of Beaverton, Milwaukie, Hillsboro, Gresham and Wilsonville in opting for renewable clean wind power sourced only from wind farms in Oregon and Washington.

The Lake Oswego City Council voted 4-3 last week to purchase clean wind power from Portland General Electric. By choosing to participate in the Clean Wind program at the platinum level, the city’s largest energy consumers will be 100 percent powered by clean wind. Those accounts consume 67 percent of the city’s electricity.

The platinum-level program will cost the city $25,100 annually — about 2 percent of what the city spent on electricity in 2014. The pending sale of the West End Building actually decreased the cost of the program, which had been pegged at just over $27,000.

Lake Oswego Sustainability Advisory Board co-chair Gary Hanifan told the council the cost will continue to go down over time as renewable power gets cheaper and as the city follows its current sustainability plan to reduce its total energy usage. For example, the recent installation of LED light bulbs has reduced power costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

“The cost of this program is actually less than two months of savings from the previous LED (lights) program, so it’s a re-investment of the savings we’ve already generated in energy efficiency,” Hanifan said.

But the council was divided over whether the program was worth the cost.

“This is still a subsidy, this is still a tax,” Mayor Kent Studebaker said, adding that he was not convinced wind turbines were environmentally sound. “I don’t see any reason to say just because it makes us feel good that we as a city should burden our citizens with this extra money.”

Councilor Jon Gustafson argued that the program would not pose a financial burden.

“It’s such a tiny fraction of even just our utility payments that I do think that what it becomes is perhaps a philosophical decision,” he said. “It’s certainly not a budgetary one — the number is too small.”

Councilor Jackie Manz joined Gustafson in voting for the program, along with Councilors Joe Buck and Jeff Gudman, calling it “a marketing opportunity.”

Thirty-nine businesses and 12.5 percent of households in Lake Oswego currently participate in the Clean Wind program through PGE. The city’s participation will qualify Lake Oswego for the Environmental Protection Agency’s designation as a Green Power Community.

“I have seen, at least in the tourism business, what a sustainable product can do in Oregon as far as attracting a younger demographic,” Manz said.

Contact Saundra Sorenson at 503-636-1281 ext. 107 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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