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Clean Energy Works takes conservation plan statewide

Portland's path-setting Clean Energy Works has gone statewide, with a new rebate that shaves up to $3,700 off the cost of improving home energy efficiency.

Clean Energy Works Oregon is offering the rebates to the first 1,000 homeowners who sign up, says Derek Smith, chief executive officer of the new nonprofit.

Homeowners residing in Portland's Lents and Interstate urban renewal areas are eligible for additional rebates up to $1,000, Smith says.

The nonprofit formally kicked off a marketing campaign Monday, though it started signing up new homeowners last week. In the first six days of the 'soft' rollout of the program, 254 people applied, Smith says.

The goal is to help 6,000 homeowners throughout the state in the next three years.

Clean Energy Works Oregon is designed let homeowners make energy-saving improvements with no out-of-pocket costs, and pay off the loans via monthly utility bills.

Homeowner improvements such as weatherization, caulking, insulation and high-efficiency furnaces then can reduce home energy usage and bills, offsetting much of the loan payments.

Repaying loans

The program originated in a 2009 state law. Portland was first out of the gate with a 500-home pilot program called Clean Energy Works.

That program is winding down as the new statewide program is being rolled out.

The addition of rebates, funded by a federal grant and other sources, is designed to drive down costs and get the new program geared up. Eventually, Smith says, the goal is to transform the market for home energy improvements and enable the private sector to take over.

An initial study of the first 187 participants in Clean Energy Works found folks cut their gas and electricity usage by more than 30 percent. Monthly utility bills, including loan payments, were estimated to go up $32.56 a month. That was more than initially projected, but participants wound up doing electrical and other improvements with the loan money that weren't pegged to lowered energy usage.

The rebates should drive the monthly out-of-pocket costs lower.

Other changes in the program also could lower costs, Smith said, such as new software.

To apply, go to: www.cleanenergyworksoregon.org .

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