Clatsop County was among several local entities recognized Thursday at a reception hosted at Baked Alaska restaurant in Astoria by the Energy Trust of Oregon.
The event celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the trust, an independent non-profit created by the Oregon Legislature and funded by Pacific Power, Portland General Electric, Northwest Natural and Cascade Natural Gas. The organization funds energy-saving inspections and improvements for homes, businesses and public agencies served by the four utilities, and since its launch has funded projects that have saved a total of $1 billion in energy costs.
Margie Harris, Energy Trust executive director, highlighted several local businesses and governments that took advantage of energy upgrades through the program, including the Hampton lumber mill in Warrenton, Englund Marine and Bornstein Seafoods in Astoria, and cities of Astoria and Seaside.
Clatsop County has worked with the trust since 2004 on energy-saving projects. In 2009 the trust conducted an inspection of county buildings to find ways to make their heating, ventilation and lighting systems more efficient. The resulting data went into a grant application to the Oregon Department of Energy, which in 2010 awarded Clatsop County more than $138,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, part of $6.5 million in grants awarded throughout the state through the federal economic stimulus program. The Energy Trust augmented the federal dollars with an additional $32,000.
The county used the combined funds for upgrades to lighting, heating and ventilation systems in the county courthouse, jail, and 800 and 820 Exchange St. public service offices in Astoria and the animal shelter in Warrenton.
The projects included the installation of variable-speed ventilation motors and carbon dioxide detectors to provide air in rooms only when needed, as well as more efficient lighting fixtures. High-efficiency water heaters were installed in the jail and animal shelter, and the last of the original steam-heat system in the 108-year-old courthouse was replaced. In the county jail, a digital computer system replaced inefficient pneumatic controls operating the heating, cooling and ventilation.
Combined, the upgrades have reduced natural gas use by 25 percent and electricity use by 30 percent. The first year after the project, the county realized savings in energy costs of $27,000.