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Growth can be sparked by smart public investment

Oregon’s home performance industry really started to grow about five years ago. We were one of the first construction companies to offer comprehensive residential energy efficiency services. By using the “whole home” perspective, customers not only saw their return on investment on paper, they also felt the difference in comfort right away. Today, we continue our growth trajectory, in part because of a longstanding partnership with Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO).

CEWO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easy for Oregonians to choose comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades for their home, and simultaneously help to create jobs and expand a new sector of the economy. CEWO does this by connecting homeowners to local lenders for low-cost financing, to local utilities for cash incentives and to certified energy efficiency contractors like us to do the work. We have been partnering with CEWO for the last four years — first, as part of the city of Portland pilot project — and together we have helped more than 150 homeowners here in the Portland metro area make their homes more comfortable and efficient; as an end result, they spend less money on utilities.

This partnership has helped me grow my business. In fact, we are busier now than we have ever been. Not only has that allowed us to keep 14 full-time employees working, but we now have plans to bring on four new workers. My business’s growth, and the growth inspired around the state through the efforts of Clean Energy Works Oregon, has been possible because of public investment.

Through an effective public-private partnership, CEWO has helped thousands of Oregonians make their houses more comfortable while reducing wasteful energy expenses and improving the value of their largest asset, their home.

Equally important, CEWO has helped more than 1,000 workers receive paychecks and 300 new workers build a promising construction career. As a small-business owner and an employer, I know how important that is.

The public funds that first helped seed this effort came from the U.S. Department of Energy. Those funds successfully unlocked millions of dollars of private capital now being circulated in the local economy. Private lenders are helping finance energy remodels in communities throughout our state. All those remodels mean a stronger job market and stable paychecks for construction professionals.

Currently, the state of Oregon has the opportunity to expand this job creation machine. After all, there are 600,000 homes throughout Oregon in need of an energy upgrade. That represents the potential for 60,000 jobs and $8 billion in economic development.

I am encouraging my legislators to advance this growth and opportunity by investing in efforts like Clean Energy Works Oregon, an organization with a proven track record of creating jobs, growing businesses and increasing private investment.

Brian Hansen is director of sales and marketing of Bull Mountain Heating, which is headquartered in Lake Oswego.



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