(Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program is celebrating its 20th anniversary | Photo courtesy of Pacific Power )
The premise is simple: when everyone takes a small step together, the impact can be momentous. Twenty years ago, it was this idea that built Blue Sky — a customer-powered, opt-in program offered by Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp, that helps local residents, small businesses and municipalities support renewable energy and environmental stewardship in their communities and throughout the West.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Blue Sky program and its participants across PacifiCorp’s six states have supported 9.2 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy (enough to power around 938,000 homes for one year). Additionally, in Oregon, Pacific Power Blue Sky participants have helped support 110 community-based renewable energy projects for deserving local organizations and helped restore 90 native fish habitat projects across hundreds of miles of the state’s rivers.
“Blue Sky celebrates the power of community and the real change that comes from neighbors helping neighbors. Whether it’s new solar panels going up at a community center or a local wind project coming on-line, we are growing sustainable, renewable energy for generations to come,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO, Pacific Power. “For 20 years, our customers have come together to support renewable energy and our communities, and it’s remarkable to see the tremendous difference their support has made.”
Launched in the spring of 2000, Blue Sky allows customers to match their energy usage with the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs). It’s a simple way for participants to support new renewable energy in the West, above and beyond PacifiCorp’s substantial and growing commitment to renewables.
Blue Sky is currently more than 135,000 participants strong, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory rankings, is one of the top five utility programs of its kind based on most participants and most renewable energy supported. For many cities and counties, Blue Sky offers a tangible way to meet local sustainability and climate action goals.
In Oregon, more than 12 percent of all Pacific Power customers take part in Blue Sky, and the number continues to grow each year. To participate, customers select from three program options and the amount of renewable energy they want to support, then pay that extra amount on their monthly bill, starting at $1.95 per month. Depending on the program selected, participants can support community-based renewable energy projects for local nonprofits, schools and civic groups, native fish habitat restoration projects along Oregon rivers or the development of new utility-scale renewable energy facilities in Oregon.
From food banks to emergency shelters, youth programs to volunteer fire departments, vital organizations throughout Oregon have applied and received funding through Blue Sky to help them add solar panels or other renewable energy generation options to their facilities, allowing them to reduce their operating costs. These savings are more important than ever as these organizations continue to provide for many critical needs during the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, these community projects help support environmental sustainability and carbon reduction for the region.
In addition to community and habitat restoration projects, Blue Sky participants have helped bring on-line three new utility-scale renewable energy facilities in Oregon, including:
- Blue Basin (on-line in 2016) — a 4-megawatt, 3,420 panel solar project in Klamath Falls;
- Burnt River Wind (on-line in 2017) — a 50-megawatt, 25 turbine wind project in Huntington, Oregon; and
- Orchard Wind (coming on-line in 2020) — a 40-megawatt, 16 turbine wind project in Umatilla County.
Pacific Power customers are invited to celebrate Oregon’s communities and renewable power projects throughout the year and learn more about Blue Sky by visiting joinbluesky.com/20years.