April 1 marked a milestone for the City of Portland as it awarded its first round of grants to support communities of color, people with low income and underserved neighborhoods through the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund, or PCEF.
With unanimous approval by the City Council, PCEF awarded 45 grants to 38 organizations totaling $8.6 million. Seven grants will fund clean energy projects that include energy efficiency and renewable energy, four are for workforce development and four will focus on green infrastructure and regenerative agriculture projects.
They range in scope from energy-efficient retrofits and apprenticeship opportunities for women and people of color to new community green spaces and new technologies to increase climate resilience. Just a few of the many grant recipients include:
- Community Energy Project, which will conduct deep energy retrofits and repairs for 20 low-income, Black homeowners. Five of those homes will also receive solar panels and two will include battery energy storage.
- Verde, which will install energy-efficient ductless heat pumps in more homes of people with low incomes and people of color.
- African American Alliance for Homeownership, which will establish a matched savings program to reduce barriers to retrofitting and repairing homes and installing solar and help low-to-moderate income homeowners of color build climate and financial resilience through clean energy.
- National Association of Minority Contractors-Oregon, which will create a comprehensive clean energy construction training program and curriculum for BIPOC contractors who live in Portland, with an emphasis on Black contractors.
- LatinoBuilt Foundation, which will research and develop a program that will foster Latinx contractor excellence in energy efficiency by retrofitting their businesses for green construction and clean energy.
Many of the projects plan to take on climate action while also providing additional benefits. Other grants will provide funding to plan, assess and refine climate action projects.
PCEF was created by a ballot measure passed in 2018 by Portland voters to implement climate actions that center on equity and serve traditionally underrepresented populations. Grants will fund projects in four areas: clean energy, including energy efficiency and solar; workforce development, contractor training and support; green infrastructure and regenerative agriculture; and innovation.
While Energy Trust is not an official partner or contractor for the PCEF program, some of the projects receiving funding will leverage Energy Trust incentives to utility customers and its Trade Ally Network of local contractors.
Additional opportunities to apply for PCEF grants will be available later in 2021-2022.