Lake County, the New Energy Frontier

Lake County, the New Energy Frontier

Lake County Resources Initiative

2012 Update

I. 2012 key activities

  1. When drilling the re-injection well for the City of Paisley geothermal 2MW plant they hit another excellent source of geothermal and as a result the project will be a 2.5MW plant. The power plant has been ordered and will arrive for installation April 2013.

LCRI put them in touch with a company who builds small community wind projects consisting of 3-5 towers. The Town had completed a year of testing and the site looks favorable for a small wind project.

  1. The schools and hospital have all been retrofitted for geothermal. The Town of Lakeview obtained a 45 year loan to build the geothermal heating district and plans to start construction spring 2013. The prospective savings to the Lakeview school district is expected to be $100,000 per year which will be used to retain teachers and programs.
  2. Assisted the Paisley School in determining alternative heat sources for the school: ground source heat pump, biomass or geothermal. The study showed that a ground source heat pump is the best alternative but the initial cash outlay is too much for the district. LCRI will continue to work with the school to find financial assistance.
  3. Pacific Power completed construction of a 2.5 MW solar facility in Lakeview and dedicated the facility in November 2012. Beside the Pacific Power facility Obsidian Finance Group built a 363 kW system. At the dedication the Pacific Power 2.5 MW system was the largest solar project in Oregon but in December 2012 Obsidian Finance Group finished a 5 MW solar system in Christmas Valley making it the State’s largest. Currently there are plans to build a 10MW solar facility in Christmas Valley and when completed it will become the State’s largest.
  4. Completely changed LCRI website,
  5. 6. Held two meetings with Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Treasure Valley Community College, Lakeview School District 7, Paisley School District, Lake County, Town of Lakeview, Klamath Community College, Lake County Cooperative Extension, South Central Oregon Economic Development District, Town of Lakeview, Lake County Commissioners, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and Pacific Power to build a natural resource and energy institute in Lakeview using the existing Daily Middle School. Discussing with the Ford Family Foundation about them offering scholarships to communities they work with in Oregon and Northern California to learn how to assess their renewable energy opportunities and economic benefits. Since the initial meeting this has grown into a vision of utilizing the not used Daily Middle School to expand local educational opportunities to meet the Governor’s educational 40-40-20 educational goals by establishing a learning and innovation center with the purpose of:
  • Providing additional dual-credit opportunities for secondary students
  • Providing college level course access for all age groups
  • Meeting the educational needs of the communities and region at-large
  • Providing educational opportunities for natural resource, renewable energy and community sustainable development
  • Providing continuing educational opportunities for all professionals
  • Providing video-conferencing access for meetings and remote access courses
  • Providing facilities for community events and workforce training
  • Providing research facility for renewable energy entrepreneurs
  • Assisting the Town of Lakeview in meeting EPA PM-2.5 standards
  • Assisting low income families with energy efficiencies

LCRI has dedicated 50% of Katie Kargol’s time to this project who is a University of Oregon RARE student. The school has new windows, state of the art lighting, telecommunication lines, 2 labs, is retrofitted for geothermal, will have a $1.5 million dollar seismic retrofit this summer and an auditorium that holds 250. Agreements for use of the facilities, college accreditation, curriculum development, etc. all have to be developed and we estimate that to be a two year process. The idea of a Learning and Innovation Center was created to share our past and future successes with other communities and develop a model for Governor Kitzhaber’s 40-40-20 educational goals for Oregon by 2025.

  1. The Ford Family Foundation hired Richard Gardner, PhD Economist to investigate the economic impact LCRI is having on Lake County with its renewable energy projects. Mr. Gardner studied 22 projects and found they are saving businesses and homeowners $1.2 million or an average of $125,000/year. Mr. Gardner projected that future work could reach $9.2 million in savings over the life of the equipment. (Copy of the report is attached)
  2. Nevada Geothermal and ORMAT have started drilling their production well at the Crump Geyser. This will be a 30MW geothermal plant. The re-injection well is finished. The two companies were considering 3 other 30MW sites in Lake County but for the same reasons the biomass project was put on the shelve, they will continue investigating the sites but not go to construction until the renewable energy market rebounds.
  3. Business Energy Audits – LCRI working with South Central Oregon Economic Development District audited 15 businesses in Lakeview and have had all but one perform energy improvements through weatherization, lighting and equipment up-grades. Businesses have seen heating energy savings of up to $600 a month. These weatherization programs have expanded two local contracting businesses into primarily weatherization work including a building and electrical contractor.
  4. LCRI has promoted residential audits in Lake County through presentations to service clubs and Solar Oregon. These available programs through Clean Energy Works of Oregon” have helped many homeowners throughout the County. A new low income auditing program through LCRI is being proposed to remove the back-log of low income housing weatherization opportunities.

In 2007 EPA increased the standard for particulate matter from PM-10 down to PM-2.5. While the Town of Lakeview meets the PM-10 standard, they do not meet the new PM-2.5 standard and are in threat of being put out of compliance. The Town and South Central Oregon Economic Development Council initiate a very successful wood stove buyout program as wood stove smoke is the leading cause for not meeting the standard. This, however, did not solve the problem as for the most part it did not reach renters who use wood as their primary source of heat. Even if you upgrade your wood stove to meet standards but burn wet wood, the newer wood stoves will not meet standards. Most programs around renewable energy and/or weatherization are for owner-occupied residents and do not serve the low income rental properties which is 31% of the housing in Lake County. In 2013 LCRI hopes to offer energy audits to low income, especially renters, and offer renewable energy alternatives for heat. LCRI has developed an agreement for the owners of rentals so they don’t turn around and sell or evict the tenant once improvements are made. Can you image the impact of saving $100-$300/month for a low income family would mean.

  1. LCRI investigated the renewable energy impact on fossil fuel CO2 emissions and discovered that if we implement every renewable energy project currently being investigate we could offset 93% of Lake County’s fossil fuel emissions or 267,908 metric tons/year of CO2. When this can be achieved is dependent upon a renewable energy market and energy policy both at the State and National level. (Final emission report available upon request)

2. LCRI Director, Jim Walls, spoke at the first Oregon State University Ted-X program on renewable energy and global warming. See the 18 minute talk on LCRI’s webpage .

  1. On April 30 PBS program “This American Land” came to Lake County and LCRI lined up renewable energy projects though out Lake County for them to film. To view the program go to, it is the third program on episode 213.
  2. LCRI developed renewable energy curriculum which was distributed to all K-12 teachers in Lake County in 2012. The curriculum allowed teachers to select from many pre-created on-line sources to create their own presentations. Some of this material was used during earth week 2012.
  3. On June 6, 2012 at the request of Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) LCRI conducted a tour of renewable energy projects for an engineering group from Kenya. In July LCRI held a local renewable energy tours of Lakeview and as a result of the success will be doing additional tours in 2013. LCRI has been asked to provide training and tours for other Oregon rural communities that are interested in following the Lakeview renewable energy model.
  4. Contracting businesses in Lake County have emerged or expanded for the renewable energy work. Two Lakeview plumbing contractors have expanded, one for heating and cooling and another for ground source heat pumps. Building and electrical contractors have expanded to take up the new energy work and the largest local construction materials company, Pro-Build, offers new product lines in ground-source heat pump, solar photovoltaics and solar hot water.
  5.  The Governor’s energy staff held a renewable energy workshop in Bend for county and city officials on renewable energy and LCRI was invited to talk about how renewable energy can be an economic tool and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  6. Two different entities received Oregon Department of Energy grants to do renewable energy exhibits in Lake County on renewable energy. The largest award was to Rabe Consulting for $228,000 to build three stationary exhibits in Lake County. The other was Solar Oregon for approximately $49,000 with $20,000 of that going to build a renewable energy trailer exhibit. Both parties contacted LCRI and we are coordinating the efforts for a common touch screen on renewables and brochures that can be utilized in all the exhibits. LCRI helped organize a local Lake County Committee to work on both projects. The grant for the mobile exhibit requires that it be shown in 5 sites in Lake County and LCRI will coordinate those sites. Once the trailer has completed the trailer will be made available to communities in Oregon, Southern Washington and Northern California.


  1. Unexpected opportunities or challenges. Three changes have negatively impacted our efforts. First, in November 2011 the renewable energy market here in the west collapsed as a result of natural gas prices decline and excess hydro. Second, a new California Renewable Energy Portfolio significantly complicated the sale of Oregon renewable energy to California and, lastly, Pacific Power has achieved Oregon Renewable Energy Portfolio goals and is no longer purchasing large new sources of renewable energy. The negative impact has been large. Despite being under construction the Iberdrola biomass project was put on hold along with two geothermal projects and three solar projects. The biomass plant was the key to making our December 2012 goal but now it will be late 2013 or early 2014 before we reach the goal of being a net exporter of renewable energy but we will make it using other sources than biomass. LCRI is currently trying to estimate how long this downturn in the renewable energy market is going to last and can we revive these projects when it does. When the market comes back it appears that we have the potential to exceed our original goal 7 times.


  1. III. Major changes within or outside of the organization that impacted our work

In section II, items 6, 7 and 9 explain the impact. The savings of $400-$600 per month reduces business overhead and helps them stay in business. For a homeowner it can mean extra money for a child’s college education, a down payment on a new car, etc. Dr. Gardner estimates that over the next few years the work LCRI is doing will amount to $9.2 million in new expendable income in Lake County.

LCRI has learned that programs designed to help low income with renewable energy do not receive enough funding to get to all the requests. In Lake County there are 60 low income renters on a waiting list for energy audits. Our engineer, Bob Rogers is getting certified in energy audits and we are going to find a way to serve this group. Lake County has had a high level of poverty for years and can you imagine what a savings of $100-$300/month would mean to a low income family.

For Solar projects LCRI estimates that annual taxes going to local units of government and taxing districts should be around $40,000 to $80,000/year depending upon size of the solar project. For geothermal is could be as high as $1-$2 million. This impacts all kinds of services without having to raise taxes.

As we develop our capacity to do energy audits and implementing the institute, LCRI’s staff will increase dramatically. We will be expanding contractual work to individuals like Dr. Gardner to teach renewable energy economics, etc. The County is also talking to LCRI about expanding our role in Lake County economic development and would result in additional staff.

  1. IV. Overall impact on the people we serve, and on our organization

The Ford Family Foundation hired Richard Gardner, PhD Economist to investigate the economic impact LCRI is having on Lake County with renewable energy. Mr. Gardner looked at 22 projects and he found these projects are saving those businesses and homeowners $1.2 million or an average of $125,000/year or approximately $6,000 ea./yr. Mr. Gardner projected that future work could reach $9.2 million in savings over the life of the equipment. (Copy of the report is available upon request). The study also confirmed that those receiving assistance were not low income. Upon learning this LCRI put as a high priority for staff to investigate how we could assist low income and especially renters with renewable energy installations. Staff has made considerable progress on this priority and is developing a plan with the Town of Lakeview and South Central Oregon Economic Development District to assist low income. The 2.5 MW solar project in Lakeview hired all local contractors for the installation except for the electricians as that was not a skill we had locally.

As a result of other areas hearing of our success LCRI created a workshop curriculum that will assist other communities in evaluating their specific renewable energy alternatives as an economic development strategy. LCRI board decided that offering other communities the opportunity to come here will also have a positive economic benefit as people attending the workshops will be spending lodging and meal funds in the community. When the community started hearing about the effort to bring other communities here, the idea of establishing an accredited higher learning facility came forth and is currently gaining significant support throughout the community.


Appendix A



Fairgrounds Solar Hot Water and Ground Source Heat Pump

Fairgrounds Solar and Wind Demonstration





One of two 9.9kW solar put in under the State’s Feed-in-Tariff pilot program for Lake County









Community Leaders tour 2.5MW Black Cap Solar Farm

Playas, a nonprofit organization supporting creative work in the arts, literature, natural sciences; heats with solar







LCRI wins RFP for the National Renewable Energy Lab to study deep geothermal in Lake County. Personnel from NREL visit Town of Lakeview geothermal system for Warner Correction Facility

Engineers from Kenya tour geothermal development in Lake County