FORGE luncheon shows how new kinds of power are having state, local impact

The faces of most drivers are dropping in dismay as they drive by gas stations and see the price steadily rising on the cost per gallon.

But Lisa Adatto of Lake Oswego can drive by those same signs and smile because she is now driving her new electric car, a Nissan Leaf, that is already keeping bucks in her pocketbook.

Drivers don't have to be as gung ho about electric cars as Adatto, who is a member of the state electric vehicle commission as well as serving on the Lake Oswego Sustainability Advisory Board. However, there may not be a happier driver around.

'It is a cost effective decision to drive an electric car,' Adatto said. 'It's good for you and it's good for the economy in general.'

Adatto was feeling more cheerful than ever after moderating the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce FORGE luncheon on the clean energy business in Oregon and Lake Oswego, held Tuesday at Marylhurst University. It featured two outstanding experts on clean energy in Barry Woods and Glenn Montgomery. Their answer on how the state and Lake Oswego are doing was 'very well,' and the breakthrough of electric cars into the marketplace is just part of the reason. Solar, wind and geothermal power are also on the upswing.

'We have made a lot of progress,' said Susan Millhauser, sustainability coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego, 'and we've been able to leverage it into a lot of opportunities for residents and businesses.'

The progress has been quiet compared to the wave of publicity that greeted the surge in sustainability - especially clean energy - a few years ago. But the progress has been steady and heartening for advocates of clean power.

Adatto loves to gather facts, and at Tuesday's luncheon she obtained many that reflect the rising tide of sustainability in Oregon and Lake Oswego:

• Oregon ranks second overall among all 50 states in clean energy. The state does not have a lot of oil like Texas, but Oregon is blessed with abundant resources of wind, wave, solar and biomass energy sources.

• There have been 45,000 green jobs created in Oregon and half are related to renewable energy or energy efficiency.

• Oregon has gone from zero to 24 megawatts in wind power produced each year, a huge increase.

• Wind power money is getting into the hands of farmers and landowners.

• There were more solar power installations made last year than in any previous year.

'We're in a pretty good situation compared to other parts of the country,' Millhauser said.

The news at home is good, too. Millhauser said the city is making big gains in energy efficiency, solar energy and use of electric vehicles.

'All of these things are available in Lake Oswego,' Millhauser said. 'And we still have Main Street money we would like to spend in the next two months. Real life issues have come up (political and economic sectors opposed to sustainability) that have caused some flattening out. But progress is still being made. There's less talk now, but there's a lot of action.'

It is becoming easier to direct people's attention toward electric vehicles lately because Oregon gas prices are among the highest in the nation.

Adatto said, 'One reason is that Oregon has trouble with its refineries.'

Millhauser noted, 'Barry Woods said he had recently bought an electric vehicle. He had gone 1,100 miles in it and had spent $40.'

The market for electric cars was 1 percent last year, not a huge number, but Adatto said, 'It's a great start. More electric car models will be coming out, like Chevy Volt and models by Ford and Toyota. There are now 1,200 electric vehicles registered in Oregon, and most of them were bought in the last year.'

She added, 'There's a little cadre of electric vehicle drivers in Lake Oswego.'

That number is sure to rise, because two new electric car charging stations will soon be installed in the city, and they will feature new state-of-the-art technology that is much superior to the original charging station on A Avenue between Second and Third streets.

May is Sustainability Action Month in Lake Oswego, and Adatto and Millhauser say enthusiasm has been running high.

'All of our events have been great,' Adatto said.

More information about SAM in Lake Oswego can be found at

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