Community Responds to Deschutes Energy Future

a person with blonde hair wearing a hoodie writes on sticky notes on a whiteboard

Deschutes Energy Future Launches August 2023

Last month, our Climate Solutions program launched the Deschutes Energy Future (DEF) initiative, an innovative pathway to develop a community-led energy plan for Deschutes County. A direct outcome of the work completed by our two-year RARE AmeriCorps member, Grace Andrews, the DEF aims to put into practice what other similar-sized counties have accomplished around energy planning for the future, while also taking into account the unique social, economic, and geographic landscapes of Deschutes County. The project aligns with community calls for action as well as the Environmental Center’s mission and vision for a sustainable Central Oregon, a combination that we have been striving to do more of in our everyday work. We believe that planning for our energy future with community priorities at the forefront of the conversation will result in a more equitable and sustainable energy system powered by more renewable energy sources. The need, sense of urgency, and desire to put this new initiative into motion was all there– so it was time to start raising capital to fund it!

After the first week of the campaign we reached our halfway point of $10,000, thanks to the quick response of our supporters and a generous match pledge from TallTreeTrust! Central Oregonians  spoke up and quickly filled the need to get this initiative off the ground. Supporters from La Pine, Redmond, Bend and Sisters to Sunriver shared their support of this plan on social media, in emails and through our website! 

Momentum grows!

Folks across Deschutes County are on board and want to stay engaged in this work and it shows! This effort will be by and for the entire community, and it is much bigger than The Environmental Center alone. We recognize that transformative change only happens through collaboration, and that is where the Leadership Team comes in. The Leadership Team will foster intentional relationships that center our communities’ needs with the intent to lead, develop, and adopt an energy action plan for the community to co-implement. 

Kandis, a resident of Sisters wrote, “I want to lend my expertise and skills to the DEF group. I have been searching for ways to get involved locally and DEF is exactly the type of volunteer work that I [am] looking for. I think DEF will have a strong impact in our community, and I would love to be a part of it.”

A Bend resident, Dan told us, “we need to establish goals and create an action plan to help make the clean energy transition happen throughout the county, and then encourage and facilitate action by residents, businesses, schools and government bodies to accomplish those goals.” 

What happens next?

We are especially looking to center the experiences of those who have historically and still remain to be left out of planning processes like this, such as rural communities, low-income families, and communities of color. If you know someone who lives in Deschutes County that would be a good fit for the DEF Leadership Team, please pass along this application form! This is a volunteer role that will receive a stipend for their time and commitment.

As of early September, fundraising for the initiative is still underway. With as much support as we have received, we are still just shy of our goal to be able to launch this initiative! We are 80% of the way to our goal of $20,000 and we need more community support to push us over the top! If you are in a place to donate, your donation goes toward making this community-led effort a reality and ensuring that volunteers of the Leadership Team and other local experts can be equitably compensated for their time, travel expenses and work on this plan! 

“Because the future is renewable energy sources – I want to be part of the solution!” – Shari