Solarization begins in Pendleton

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Articles - April 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pendleton is beginning a citywide initiative to install solar panels on residential homes with an eye toward eventual job creation and a niche market for renewable energy.

The intent of this is to put Pendleton on the map as a residential solar leader, says Tracy Bosen, Pendleton’s economic development director.

Lee Jorgensen, Pendleton’s community and sustainable development coordinator, says few electricians and other contractors are familiar with solar installation in Pendleton. One purpose of the program is to diversify that sector of the workforce.

LiveLight Energy, a contractor based in Beaverton, was selected March 9. Installations are to begin in June. No goal for installations has been set, but 300 home-owners have expressed interest.

A city-run fund of up to $500,000 will provide zero-interest loans to help citizens with the price. “One of the big barriers for solar is that there is a really large up-front cost,” Jorgensen says.

The hope is it will be as successful as a similar program in Portland. Solarize Portland, a collaboration between the Energy Trust of Oregon and Southeast Portland’s neighborhood coalition Southeast Uplift, brought together homeowners in Southeast Portland interested in installing solar panels.

Lizzie Rubado, the Energy Trust’s residential solar project manager, says the program appeals to people who may not be able to afford the upfront costs and who do not mind collectively buying panels. That sector of the market is different from people traditionally buying solar panels.

“There’s going to be a lot more solar going in Oregon at a more affordable price,” Rubado says. 

AMANDA WALDROUPE
 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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