Local organizations compete for $40,000

There’s $40,000 up for grabs and Cottage Grove has a 50 percent chance of grabbing it. 

Emerald People’s Utility District’s annual Green Grant competition awards funds to schools and non-profits that submit a plan for a renewable energy project and manage to secure the vote of customers.

The competition, which started in 2004, is funded by EPUD customers who choose to be part of the Green program. As program members, they pay one cent more per used kilowatt and the difference is funneled into the Green Grant fund. 

“What’s clear is that our customers choose to pay a little extra to fund this,” said Patty Jo Angelini, public relations coordinator for the company. 

Every organization that submits a plan is entered into the voting pool, according to Angelini, as long as it abides by the rules of the contest: entries must be renewable energy focused and organizations must be within EPUD’s service area. 

This year, two Cottage Grove groups have submitted projects along with organizations in Saginaw and Veneta. 

Aprovecho—an education center focused on sustainability—has submitted plans for a solar system with a battery backup. According to its application, Aprovecho says the project “will help reduce operational costs and increase the organization’s effectiveness as a sustainability teaching and demonstration center.”

Branch Rd. Farm School, an organic and biodynamic 73-acre farm in Cottage Grove that focuses on getting people involved in the process of growing food, also suggested a solar system that it says will provide “renewable energy generation, community education and demonstration and additional shelter for the school.” 

When the grant was founded in 2004, it focused on regional projects but according to Angelini, in 2014, the scope was narrowed to more local projects but Cottage Grove has yet to take home the prize. 

“In 2014 it was Community Food for Creswell, 2015 was in Dexter, in 2016 it was Pleasant Hill School District and in 2017 it was Midlane in Veneta,” Angelini said. All four winning projects were focused on solar energy. 

EPUD customers can vote online at epud.org or through the company's newsletter, for their favorite projects. The project with the most votes will receive funding. Voting is open through June 6. Winners are expected to be announced the following week. 

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