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Emerging renewable energy in Oregon

On the same day Governor Kitzhaber called for an extensive federal review of coal export proposals in the Northwest, Oregon’s First Lady Cylvia Hayes joined a panel of clean energy advocates for a discussion on emerging renewable energy possibilities in Oregon.

Hayes spoke as a representative of the Governor’s Office, as well as an industry professional with more than 22 years of experience in sustainable energy and economic development. Focusing on the huge possibilities available to the West Coast as the sixth largest economy in the world (albeit California holds that title even without Oregon and Washington), she highlighted the importance of merging economic recovery efforts with innovative renewable energy programs.

“Recovery is the wrong goal, what we need instead is economic reinvention,” Hayes said.

Adding different layers of advocacy and action to the discussion, Oregon Department of Energy Policy Analyst Matt Krumenauer and Wallowa Resources Renewable Energy Program Coordinator Matt King spoke about their own work in this budding field.

Krumenauer focused on the need to connect local industries to one another. For instance, energy-rich potato peels from rural french fry manufacturers have the potential to fuel the energy-demanding data centers that are popping up (and providing jobs) throughout rural Oregon.

And as a program coordinator applying policy and ideas out in the field, King discussed some of the ways Wallowa County has been reinventing the local economy in the face of a dwindling timber industry—from installing small hydropower systems in irrigation ditches to energy-efficiency biomass boilers in schools, a project that has already saved the equivalent of two teacher salaries per year.

To really round out the Solutions Seminar, visual note-taker Nitya Wakhlu created this beautiful display highlighting the main points of the evening.