New seat provides a national platform to advocate for more efficient energy policies

Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis has been appointed Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Energy Committee.

The new chairmanship will provide a national-level platform for Bemis to advocate for a sound energy policy. Mayor Shane Bemis

At home and on the national level, he has been a leading proponent of energy efficiency in local government, often pointing to examples of Gresham's trend-setting efficiency efforts, including a drive to make the city's wastewater treatment plant ­– one of the city's biggest energy users – fully powered by renewable energy by 2015.

Already the treatment plant is about 75 percent of the way toward achieving the city's goal of 100 percent renewable energy at the facility. That's thanks to co-generator engines that convert wastewater-treatment byproducts into electricity and a solar array that was the largest ground-mounted array in the Northwest when installed in 2010. As a result, Gresham's utility customers are saving more than $280,000 per year in electricity costs and enjoy the lowest wastewater rates in the region.

Nationally, Bemis has encouraged the federal government to provide assistance to state and local governments for energy efficiency projects. Through these partnerships, Gresham has erected new solar installations, provided grant programs for citizens to improve energy efficiency in their homes and spearheaded a major streetlight replacement project, which will convert Gresham's streetlights into high-efficiency LED lights, saving approximately $500,000 a year in costs.

"I appreciate your leadership and know you will help the U.S. Conference of Mayors develop a proactive, strategic agenda around this critical issue," wrote Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., the current President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in a letter of appointment sent to Bemis last week.

"I'm honored to receive this appointment, and I believe it validates Gresham's energy-efficiency leadership," Bemis said. "Nationally, we are at a defining moment in the arena of new technology, jobs and manufacturing. The U.S. Conference of Mayors will push the federal government to be world leaders in energy efficiency, and realize the economic development and cost-saving opportunities it affords."

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