Thursday, April 19, 2007

Northeast Oregon Decreases Dependency on Foreign Resources


“The way I see it, it’s a necessary means to an end of dependence”, says Jeremy Thamert, President of Oregon Power Solutions in Baker City, Oregon. The “means” and the “end” that Thamert refers to is the increased power rate that he sees all over the country. “It [wind energy] is the difference between some farms falling by the wayside or being bought out, and other more versatile and flexible farms continuing to operate in rural areas”.

Oregon Power Solutions and its eight local employees currently have 5 projects underway in Baker County and 12 small community projects that are owned locally in Eastern Oregon. Its wind towers along with constructing meteorology towers to understand wind patterns that helps keep Thamert and his crew busy. “Not a lot of businesses are truly completely vertically integrated”, says Thamert. “There is a lot of risk involved when offering the complete package”. Currently Oregon Power Solutions has taken that risk in 7 western states. “We perform work for nearly every major wind farm developer that has interest in the Northwest”.

He started the Energy Efficiency Program through Oregon Power Solutions. With this program, you can cut the average homes utility costs. Oregon Power Solutions audits a home to determine how it uses energy and makes changes in which conserve power in that home. “We can tighten up a house quite a bit”, says Thamert. “We want to make sure you aren’t just heating your crawl space”.

Wind energy is also a possibility for homes that are located outside of city limits according to Thamert. Height requirements for the system prevent it from being feasible inside city limits at this time where cities often have a 35 ft ceiling on any structures. Wind energy costs still run a little more than hydroelectric power at 3 ½ cents per kilowatt to the comparative 2½ cents. Thamert looks for that to change. “I don’t see it being that way much longer, 2008 will show many changes in our current structure”, he says. In regards to rising energy costs Thamert adds, “There will be more to worry about than just rising gas prices”.

Thamert is also quick to mention that for a homeowner outside the city limits who is interested in wind energy, there are government incentives and grant opportunities available so that a homeowner can apply for and receive up to 50% of the funding. Oregon Power Solutions educates homeowners about those programs and helps them apply.

Through Oregon Power Solutions, Thamert sees only benefits from his projects. “It takes local resources to make a local project”, says Thamert. “You can look at large development and all the money it takes to bring that company forward is foreign”. Thamert refers to a saying he once heard. “Every $1 spent locally can generate $6 for a community”, he says. “A project that stays local will provide a net return. One million can generate six million a year for a local economy. And all the money stays local”.

Thamert believes Oregon Power Solutions give locals a way to stay here and be self-sufficient and not be dependant on what happens globally. “As power rates continue to rise and our growth shows more and more demand, will there be enough energy generated to sustain us is the question”, says Thamert. “Diversification and independence is the key to limiting the impact of foreign oil and its repercussions. I strongly believe that”.

2 comments:

pastcustomer said...

I think wind energy is great, we have a few sets of generators dotting the Pennsylvania landscape. However, you we have the nay-sayers that stress their lack of asthetic appeal. "They're ugly" is basically what they say. They aren't ugly to me. Not only do I think they look neat and futuristic, they also have a very positive connotation, atleast in my mind. I think of things like cleanliness, self-sustanance, and advancement. All of which kinda bring a smile to my face.

Gingersnap13 said...

Yes, I agree. I don't think they are any less asthetically pleasing that dams. We have a big deal going on here in Oregon right now. 50 years ago The Dalles Dam flooded Celilo Falls and ended the livlihood of local native Americans that are now living below the poverty level. I think wind energy is a much better solution and here...we have wind!