For some of us, conserving energy is about more than just lowering our electric bills; it’s about reducing our impact, preserving limited resources and leaving this place just a little bit better for the generations that will come after us.
Being mindful about energy habits, using LED lights and investing in high-efficiency appliances and vehicles is a great way to live your values, but it’s possible to take your commitments even further.
Clark Public Utilities enables customers to offset their energy consumption through incremental purchases of Renewable Energy Credits by participating in the Green Lights program. The proceeds of those purchases are then used to invest in regional renewable energy development and fund renewable energy and conservation educational programs for students and teachers in the Pacific Northwest.
Green Lights enables utility customers to offset their energy use through the purchase of 100 kilowatt hour blocks for $1 each. For example, if a household’s monthly energy consumption is 1,000 kWh it can be completely offset for only $10 per month.
“The Green Lights program has supported several renewable energy projects in Clark County and literally educated thousands of local students about the benefits of renewable energy,” said Clark Public Utilities Energy Resources Program Manager Matt Babbitts.
The program is open to residential and business customers alike. There’s no time commitment, contracts and participants can cancel at any time.
Every dollar collected through the program is evenly divided between investments in renewables and education.
About two thirds of the funds support the purchase of renewable energy credits — tradable energy commodities that represent 1 megawatt-hour of electricity produced by a renewable energy source located in the western interconnect, including the Clark Public Utilities community solar array.
The rest goes to renewable energy educational activities and programs in local schools designed to educate students about renewable energy and energy conservation.
For about the first 10 years, Green Lights funds helped fund solar array installations at local schools and a few municipal buildings. The money covered data monitoring kiosks so students could see electrical generation information in real time.
Starting in 2016, the funds were used to support workshops on renewable energy and conservation for local teachers. By educating teachers, the information was able to spread much further and faster than it could when presented at a demonstration solar array. After a day-long training, teachers left with a hands-on learning kit and the knowledge to build relevant lessons around those subjects.
“We wanted to get the knowledge out to as many kids as we could, so working with local teachers was a natural solution,” Babbitts said. “They’re experts in education and they know best how to present the information in a way that their unique group of students will learn it.”
A few years ago, the utility expanded its educational offerings by creating the Solar Car Challenge—a mix of science fair and pinewood derby. All teachers who participated in the workshops were invited to form student teams that participate.
The utility provided about 800 solar car kits and students and teachers spent months building the fastest, most well-engineered solar and battery powered hybrid car they could.
The event was put on hold during the pandemic, but the utility looks forward to bringing it back in the future.
Customers can sign up for Green Lights at Clark www.clarkpublicutilities.com, by calling 360-992-3000.
Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to [email protected] or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.