City pursues Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The City of Hood River continues to focus on its environmental sustainability goals as it actively pursues achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 in City facilities.
The City is already on track to reduce its annual emissions 70% by 2035 with planned reduction projects. The majority of this 70% reduction will be realized between 2022 and 2025 as a result of energy-saving improvements at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and the completion of an in-line hydro system. Pacific Power’s mandated transition to renewable energy sourcing to reduce emissions 100% to net zero by 2040 will also help the City achieve its goal.
In addition to the solar panel array already constructed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, the City has also completed, or is in the process of completing, multiple projects that will decrease overall plant energy use. These projects include upgrading the boiler and UV systems, expanding the existing solar array, and completing digester improvements by repairing digester buildings, cleaning out digesters, and updating the digester gas mixing system.
Additionally, the City is currently designing an in-line hydro system that would harness energy from the City’s water system. The substantial amount of energy produced by this system can be used to offset energy use in City facilities. Construction is expected to start in Spring 2023 and completed by Summer 2024.
Haley Ellett, Management Analyst for the City, says the final 30% of emissions reductions to meet the 2035 goal will depend on energy-saving innovations and carbon offsets. Remaining emissions after 2030 are generally tied to vehicle use and natural gas heating for buildings. “Viable alternatives to gasoline and diesel don’t yet exist for some specialized vehicles needed for public works and emergency services,” Ellett explains. “The future availability of low-carbon fuels or a wider variety of electric vehicles, along with developments in building heating, are a possibility to meet the City’s emission reduction goals.”
Four years of efforts by the City to become a more environmentally sustainable, resilient organization are paying off. In 2018, the City adopted the Hood River County Energy Plan, a blueprint to improve the community’s resilience and increase energy independence and economic benefits related to energy use in the county. In 2019, the Hood River City Council approved Resolution 2019-16 and committed to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2035. Progress toward this goal has been reviewed annually by City Council. From 2018 to 2021, the City reduced overall facility emissions by 26%. The most recent Energy Usage and Assessment report, created by Ellett and presented to City Council in early April, outlines achievements.
As the City pursues its environmental sustainability goals in City facilities, there are many ways community members can help. Think about ways your household or business can contribute to a more environmentally sustainable and resilient community as we face global climate change.