COOS COUNTY — For the first time, the Energize South Coast program is making its way to the area.
The community-based energy efficiency campaign gives local community members and businesses a chance to take part of its clean energy program.
According to Paige Prewett, the community engagement coordinator for the program, the program works with a number of community, state and federal organizations to reduce the price of ductless heat pumps to residents across the South Coast.
In addition, the program also works to simplify the installation for customers and provides guidance on utility incentives and low-interest financing, said a joint press release from nonprofits Spark Northwest and Rogue Climate.
Community members interested in learning more about the program or wanting to participate are being advised to attend one of its online workshops. Residents looking to join the program will have to attend a workshop, which is free, to become eligible to receive the group purchase community discount, said Prewett.
In compliance with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, Prewett added the online workshops, which were changed from its typical in-person meetings, will still feature its question-and-answer portion by allowing folks to submit their questions online.
Using real-time technology, officials from Energize South Coast and Pacific Air Comfort, who was selected as the installation contractor for Coos County, will be able to address community members who participate in the workshop.
According to Jill Eikenhorst, project manager at Spark Northwest, through a competitive bidding process the local contractor, Pacific Air Comfort in Coquille, was selected by numerous local volunteers from around Coos County.
The volunteers, who chose a contractor based on how well they fit its criteria, featured a mixture of local community members and partners including the Coquille Indian Tribe and the Coos Bay Surfriders, said Eikenhorst.
Pricing, customer service and quality of products were among the items the volunteers considered when picking a contractor.
“We’re excited to be a part of this unique program,” said Amber Skorupski, of Pacific Air Comfort in a press release. “Energize South Coast makes it possible to help our customers save money, and make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.”
A collaborative effort, Spark Northwest and Rogue Climate also partnered with NeighborWorks Umpqua, Sol Coast and the Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board. Funding from the USDA Rural Economic Development Grant program made it possible for its team to offer the program locally, said Eikenhorst.
"Saving money on our energy bills and creating local energy efficiency jobs in rural Oregon is critical at this time of economic uncertainty," said Ashley Audycki, Coos Bay organizer at Rogue Climate in a press release. "Across Southern Oregon, this program has already resulted in 195 installations, 11 new jobs, and thousands of dollars saved on energy bills. We are excited to launch this program to bring these benefits to the Coos County."
The grant program, which provides funding to utility projects to create and retain jobs in rural areas, also supported similar Energize South Coast programs in Jackson, Josephine and Douglas Counties.
In addition to its question-and-answer panel, the workshops will also include information on ductless heat pumps, financing options and other utility cash incentives such as those provided by Pacific Power and Energy Trust of Oregon.
“Energize South Coast leverages cost savings and community education to create jobs, support energy efficiency and reduce utility bills in rural areas,” said Prewett, in a press release. “The opportunity to hear from energy experts and to work with a local installer gives people confidence. We make the process easy to understand and move forward.”
For more information
Anyone interested in learning more about Energize South Coast or to register for its workshop, visit its website at energizesouthcoast.org or call 541-236-5027.
The workshops are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Thursday, June 4, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.