Projects and Stories

Making Energy Work for Rural Oregon

A series of workshops to help Oregon communities implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and programs.


In 2015 and 2016, Sustainable Northwest, Lake County Resource Initiative, and Wallowa Resources hosted a series of workshops - Making Energy Work for Rural Oregon - in five communities across Oregon beginning in Fall 2015: John Day and Hood River in eastern Oregon, as well as Douglas County, Talent, and Klamath Falls in southwest Oregon. These workshops spurred a budding coalition of communities around the state to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. 

Both Lake and Wallowa County served as models for their success  in implementing renewable energy projects. Lake County growing closer to being 100% free of fossil fuels, with 22 renewable energy projects saving the county over $1.9 million dollars. Wallowa County has solar, biomass, and micro-hydro projects saving over $2.4 million in energy costs. 

Workshops were tailored to address the specific energy needs of each community and sector (e.g. agricultural, commercial, residential, municipal). With the participation of local elected officials, community leaders, non-profits, businesses, and agricultural interests, workshops were designed based on available natural resources, the local priorities, and each community’s interests in utilizing energy assets to drive economic development.

The workshop series highlighted the unique set of opportunities and obstacles facing small and rural Oregon communities, and the need for greater coordination. As a result, the 2016 Fall Energy Symposium was developed as the culmination of these workshops, bringing people, ideas and innovation together for two days of workshops and trainings held October 13-14, 2016 in Roseburg, Oregon. Learn more about the Fall Energy Symposium here. 

In 2017, the program will focus on closer coordination with each of the participating communities, and also invite new communities interested in taking control of their energy future.  The series will include a June Summer Tour in Lakeview to learn about the exciting initiatives Lake County has spearheaded as they move toward becoming 100% free of fossil fuels. The second Annual Fall Energy Symposium is planned for November. The Symposium will highlight what strategies are working and what barriers communities are addressing to pursue successful energy planning, programming and project development. 

For more information about the 2015-2017 workshops, Fall Symposiums, and Summer Tour:

Talent - Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hood River - November 6, 2015

John Day - November 19, 2015

Klamath Falls - February 26, 2016

Douglas County - April 7, 2016

Fall Energy Symposium - October 13-14, 2016

Summer Energy Tour - June 5-7, 2017

Workshops are designed to provide the necessary tools and knowledge communities need to plan their energy future. Communities:  

• Identify energy-related projects that can save money, create new jobs, and provide environmental benefit, like carbon reduction.

• Set energy savings and energy generation goals, and learn how to meet those goals.

• Connect with energy experts who have the tools and knowledge to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

.Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency present an extraordinary opportunity to support a clean energy economy. Benefits from these investments retain energy dollars within a community, foster energy independence, create jobs, improve the health of our environment, and respond to the challenges of climate change. Rural communities in Oregon are adjacent to some of the best renewable energy resources in the state, but are also particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, such as declining forest health, increased drought, and resulting water shortages. Investments in clean energy not only create a platform for economic growth, they create compelling opportunities for a prosperous regional future.

For more information about this series, contact Lee Rahr, Energy Program Director:, (503) 318-8607.

This series is brought to you by:


Thank you to our Sponsors:


To become a sponsor, contact Lee Rahr, Energy Program Director,