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Another Voice: County Energy Plan demonstrates leadership and resilience

Hood River County has a long-standing history of investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy — as a means to reduce energy costs, hedge our bets against rising energy costs, and increase our community’s resilience to warming temperatures and natural disasters, both natural and human caused.

The energy industry is rapidly changing and climate change threatens to significantly impact the surrounding natural environment and resources on which Hood River County’s economy and livability depends. Warming temperatures are already impacting Hood River County: Vanishing snowpack, declining stream flows, severe storms, prolonged drought, and increasing wildfire risks threaten public health, food security, business supply chains, recreation, tourism and quality of life.

And the threat of man-made and natural disasters — ranging from oil train derailments to wildfires to earthquakes — is more imminent than ever. The county’s dependence on out-of-state energy makes us vulnerable during emergencies as well as to volatile price changes from national and international markets. Hood River County, along with other government bodies throughout the region, has a responsibility to address the risks associated with climate change and natural disasters.

Government agencies also have a responsibility to look at our energy use — one of the community’s biggest expenses — and determine ways to more efficiently and cost-effectively procure and use it.

Recognizing that the ability to solve these complex problems requires collaboration and communication with public and private partners, Hood River County and four public partners — the cities of Hood River and Cascade Locks and the ports of Hood River and Cascade Locks —​ spent the last year developing the Hood River Energy Plan. Developed by two dozen volunteers and hundreds of hours with support from the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Ford Family Foundation, the plan is a blueprint to reduce emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and increase economic benefits related to energy use in Hood River County, while improving community resilience and energy independence.

In the coming weeks, local government agencies will be considering adopting the plan’s goals and vision. That’s the first step, usually done by resolution, in a long process that will continue to rely on public involvement, subject matter experts, and public and private sector leadership. The creation of the Hood River County Energy Plan has already demonstrated that only by working together can we succeed.

The next step is rolling up our sleeves and getting to work!

To watch a video about the Energy Plan, review the plan and submit comments, go to hrccd.co.hood-river.or.us/departments/planning-zoning.

Hood River City Council will consider adopting a resolution to endorse the Energy Plan’s goals on Monday, Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. in City Hall. ​

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