By Liz Adkisson, SOU PEAK Student Sustainability Coordinator
The SOU Office of Sustainability and the Ashland Climate Action Project (ACAP) of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now partnered to gather residents’ views on various strategies and policies aimed at reducing Ashland’s climate impact at the end of 2021. The “Community Climate Connect” survey explored the topics of energy efficiency, solar energy, the use of natural gas and electricity for home energy, and climate change. Results of the survey can be found here.
The survey highlighted that many Ashland home owners are unaware of the current incentives available to them in moving towards clean energy and energy efficiency in areas such as solar installation, weatherization, and alternative heating and cooling mechanisms. These are all actions that individuals can make not only to lower their own carbon footprint but also to put pressure on large corporations and government entities to themselves move towards clean energy. It sets a precedent that, yes, individuals want to see sustainable solutions put in place at a state, national, and international level and that they are also willing to act themselves- especially when they have the resources to do so. The City of Ashland urges homeowners and businesses to adopt these climate mitigation strategies and provides extensive monetary incentives to do so.
The City of Ashland has a couple of renewable energy incentives worth noting. Firstly, the Solar Electric (PV) Rebate is there to encourage residents and businesses to install new solar electric systems interconnected with the electric supply grid. This includes a cash incentive for interconnected solar electric systems of $0.25 per watt for residential and commercial use systems, to a maximum of $5,000 per individual systems. Solar installations not only pay for themselves within 10 years of use, they also save money through tax rebates and local rebate programs such as the cash incentives that the City of Ashland provides. Clean energy is not an unattainable goal and the City of Ashland is working in partnership with its residents to make clean energy an attainable target. More information on this incentive can be found here.
The City of Ashland also recognizes energy efficiency measures and rewards those who choose to weatherize their home in order to improve efficiency of heating and cooling systems. By switching to ductless heat pumps, homeowners can cut energy costs, reduce noise, and maintain a comfortable home while also receiving credit through the local energy incentive program. Please note that a home energy review is required prior to incentive credits. More information on this can be found here.
100% clean energy by 2050 seems like a distant goal for society as a whole, especially within the context of our individual lives. We must nonetheless remain hopeful and implement change to the best of our ability to minimize the suffering of future generations. Clean energy requires a clear collective mind with a clear path forward. That path is through understanding our relationship with the Earth, collaborating with the community, and practicing reciprocity for all that this planet and its inhabitants provide us. Homeowners and businesses must be at the forefront of this movement, bringing the public eye to energy issues (both physically through solar installations and socially through community conversations).