Over 140 clean energy experts

and advocates flock to Portland

Some 140 clean energy experts and advocates from across the region flocked to Portland Nov. 9-10 for the highly successful Fall 2012 NW Clean & Affordable Energy Conference in Portland.

Those attending the NW Energy Coalition’s twice-yearly conference and board meeting were treated to a stirring keynote address and several challenging and meaty panel discussions. Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance executive director Susan Stratton delivered the keynote, “Our clean energy future: Turning obstructions into opportunities” – a theme that resonated throughout the conference.

A panel on the role of natural gas in our energy future and the potential effects on clean energy development featured a fascinating proposal. NW Natural CEO Gregg Kantor and long-time Coalition stalwart Ralph Cavanagh of the National Resources Defense Council introduced the notion of ecologically friendly natural gas certification. Such a program would aim at addressing environmental concerns raised by the hydraulic fracturing — “fracking” – process that’s creating much of the new supply.

Data centers are a hot topic throughout the region and are important to clean energy advocates both for the massive amounts of power they can consume and for the great energy-saving opportunities they represent. Conference panelists representing the Intel Corp., NRDC, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and Oregon’s EasyStreet Online Services Inc. outlined the processes and detailed the savings challenges and opportunities.

Protecting the interests of low-income and other energy consumers is one of the Coalition’s primary missions. Representatives of Oregon, Idaho and Tribal community service organizations measured the mounting needs for home weatherization and bill assistance against the clearly inadequate funding for such programs.

As is customary, the second day of the conference featured meetings of the Coalition’s state and provincial (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) and constituency (low-income, utility) caucuses and the full board meeting. All organizational members of the Coalition have seats on the full governing board.

During that meeting, the board approved the addition of four new organizational members: Sustainable Connections, Sea Breeze Power Corp., Washington Chapter of Sierra Club, the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment.

The conference was sponsored by Clean Energy Leader EverPower; Clean Energy Advocate Portland General Electric; Clean Energy Supporters NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and EDF Renewable Energy; and Clean Energy Activists Northwest Energy Efficiency Council and the Bonneville Power Administration.

The Coalition’s next NW Clean & Affordable Energy Conference will be May 31-June 1 in Boise, Idaho.

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