100% renewable?

By Ross Swartzendruber of Salem. Ross is a State Representative candidate advocating for middle class over special interests.

Hi everybody! Greetings from the rural hinterlands of the Willamette Valley and welcome to my view of the state of Oregon progressive politics. I live on a family sheep farm in rural Polk County and am running for state representative in an "unwinnable" district that has elected Republicans for the past 30 years, due to extreme gerrymandering. The spread has always hovered at 8% but when they redistricted last year, they swapped Linn for south Yamhill County, so it now includes Amity, where I graduated from high school. When no one else ran, I put my name in on filing day and I'm getting educated every day. Please oblige my two cents and expound below as needed.

I was bit by the bug as candidate Obama's gopher during his 2008 swing through the Valley. I witnessed the energy of Oregon progressives in Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene that day and wondered what it would take to coordinate the goodwill into creating effective policy in Oregon. It took only a few months to encounter the enormous barriers preventing this from happening.

So I went along my merry way and helped start a non-profit, Salem Creative Network, that focused on providing creative solutions through social innovation. We organized pub crawls, music festivals, opened art galleries and started Solarize Salem, based on the Portland model.

After installing 186 kW on 60 homes through the program, I found myself meeting with area legislators, attending P.U.C. and Joint Tax Committee hearings and testifying for an expanded feed-in-tariff to replace the Business Energy Tax Credits. Most people were unaware of the solar pilot project or success stories of job creation through the policy. As an occasional visitor to Germany, I experienced the economic benefit of feed-in-tariffs first-hand and want to see if it is possible to adopt the policy here.

This summer, I attended the World Wind Energy Association Conference in Bonn, where activists from around the world shared their stories about community energy projects. I also visited with townspeople in Wildpoldsried, Bavaria, which generates 100% of their power from renewables (wind, biogas, biomass, solar) and receives 4 million euros for their excess. All public buildings are on district heating and only locals are able to invest. Our exchange program partners are in Unterhaching, near Munich. Their town invested in a geothermal generator that now supplies 70% of the their power.

Is Oregon up for an expanded feed-in-tariff? I think so. I met with OREP throughout 2011-12 and gave input for community power options in the legislative concept for CLEAN contracts legislation to be introduced in the 2013 session. Rural towns are interested. Dayton, OR, recently completed their Dayton Forward Strategic Plan and were persuaded to include 100% renewable energy generation as a goal. Their vision concept shows locations of an energy district, solar and biogas generation. People are excited about the prospects of real job creation and growing revenue for their communities. Rural Oregon needs the help desperately. What do you think?

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    To answer your last question, I think that wind will have completely come into it's own in the next 5 yo 10 years, especially here in the Pacific Northwest where we have hydro to act as an energy storage battery. Solar's not far behind. Once we get better energy storage for both stationary and mobile platforms, we'll be home free. Keep up the good work Ross, and best of luck in your run for office.

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