Jacksonville named a Green Power Community

JACKSONVILLE — More than 10 percent of the residents and businesses in this historic town purchase renewable electrical energy, which makes Jacksonville one of just 19 cities in the United States to be designated a Green Power Community by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"I want to support ... alternatives to using our resources and not cause harm," said Jana Jensen, owner of Cycle Analysis bicycle shop, one of the Pacific Power Blue Sky business partners in town. Jensen signed up for the program several years ago, and each month buys a set amount of power that is generated by renewable resources.

City government, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Britt Festivals and Pacific Power challenged the community in June to reach the goal. A celebration was held before Tuesday's City Council meeting, where Mayor Jim Lewis received street signs that recognize the achievement.

Of the 385 customers who signed on, 272 have opted to make their entire purchase from renewable resources.

"That's been the trend with these challenges lately, folks signing up for 100 percent," said Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gantt. "It's overwhelming support for 100 percent."

Homes and businesses in town will now purchase 4.5 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy, enough to supply about 375 average homes annually. An average house uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month at a cost of $75. The bill would increase by about $4 per month if 200 of those hours come from renewable sources.

Renewal energy purchases equal about seven percent of the city's use. The purchases represent the output of three turbines at an average commercial-scale wind farm. They offset 4,476 tons of carbon emissions, equal to not driving 9.5 million miles or to planting 879,000 trees.

Renewable energy purchased for the program comes from independent sources instead of supplies generated by Pacific Power's own renewable sources. Business and home owners in the program receive stickers they can place in their windows.

"The idea is you're kind of creating and priming the market," said Gantt. "You are showing this demand by being willing to pay a bit more."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

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