In fact, we changed our name to Divestment/Reinvestment several months ago. We still work on divestment–currently we are engaged with the Cities of Portland and Milwaukie, Lewis & Clark College and Catlin Gabel School, among others, and have a new campaign to divest PERS, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System–but a lot of our energy and interest has turned to reinvestment, especially Community Solar.
Last year’s Coal to Clean Bill legalized community solar in Oregon. Community solar allows households who, for various reasons, are unable to install a solar panel on their own homes to invest in a panel in a solar array elsewhere and reap the financial and ecological benefits. An important part of the bill was that 10% of the benefits of community solar be made available to low-income households. (Our calls for just transition are being heard!)
For the last several months, the Public Utility Commission has been holding informal meetings with stakeholders to determine what should be included in the administrative rules that will govern the program. The proposed rules will be published in early April, when the formal comment period opens. Our team is gearing up to publicize, write talking points and collect comments from people like yourself who want to see rules that will encourage the participation of a diversity of households and the installation of a sizeable number of solar panels.
We are also monitoring the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative which works on another model. The Coop plans for for-profit businesses to own solar installations on not-for-profit and government buildings. The for-profit partners are able to use the tax credits and accelerated depreciation to reduce the cost of the systems. Not-for-profit organizations and governments can then install solar much less expensively than they could if they were financing the systems themselves. The Coop is planning projects on schools, churches and community buildings. Coop members will be invited to invest in these projects. We’ll let you know when there is an opportunity for you to join the Coop and participate.
Our team welcomes new energy, especially people who like to write and/or do research. Check out our main team webpage (it’s still a work in progress–we need help there too!) If you’d like to get involved or even just talk about the possibility, contact either of our team leads: Taryn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sandy at email@example.com
Written by: Sandy Polishuk, Bob Robison & Linda Craig