Nonprofit accelerates energy investment in rural Lake County


farmer with cows

With 8,000 residents, South Central Oregon’s Lake County is more remote than many of Oregon’s rural counties, with few local contractors to support people and businesses interested in clean energy upgrades.

That’s why Energy Trust partnered with local nonprofit Lake County Resources Initiative to help 19 small businesses in downtown Lakeview upgrade to energy-efficient lighting at an affordable cost—a significant achievement for a city with fewer than 2,500 people and just a few hundred registered businesses.

To overcome the community’s barriers of limited contractor resources, Lake County Resources and Energy Trust secured and supported travel costs for a contractor to drive to Lakeview to install energy efficiency upgrades.

With a mission to support Lake County’s economy and environment and a history of strong collaboration with Energy Trust, Lake County Resources Initiative recently established a contract with Energy Trust to increase awareness of clean energy opportunities for agriculture and businesses and support them in taking the first steps.

“Lake County Resources Initiative serves as a bridge between Energy Trust, businesses, residents and contractors,” said Nick Johnson, executive director of the nonprofit.

To make these 19 lighting upgrades a reality, Lake County Resources Initiative recruited two businesses to serve Lakeview customers. The nonprofit conducted audits to identify savings opportunities and supplied reduced-cost tubular LEDs with incentives from Energy Trust, and Pacific Electrical Contractors travelled from Klamath County to install the LED upgrades.

Energy Trust offered $5,000 in travel reimbursement since the cost of travel was a financial barrier to making these projects profitable.

“This collaborative approach is allowing us to connect contractors in and around Lake County to businesses and homeowners who likely haven’t had the opportunity to make energy upgrades or add renewable energy before,” said Johnson. “Individually, these projects may seem small, but together this type of work will lead our region into a clean energy future.”

“Having a trusted community partner was key to our success,” said Energy Trust Southern Oregon Outreach Manager Karen Chase. “Collaboration with nonprofits and trade ally contractors is a model we can apply to support other rural communities.”

Read more about all the ways Oregon and Southwest Washington residents and businesses are saving and generating energy while supporting our communities in Energy Trust’s 2020 Annual Report.