Mar 25, 2024 - News

Portland clean energy fund opens grant process

Illustration of a landscape made from money, with a one hundred dollar bill as the grass, a stack of pennies and cluster of dimes as a tree, and a quarter for the sun.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Portland Clean Energy Fund will award grants as high as $100 million for climate justice and community projects, with recommendations made to the City Council this fall.

Driving the news: Last week, the fund's committee presented its framework for solicitation from companies and nonprofits for clean energy projects and job training.

  • Board members have at least $158 million for the latest wave of allocations they aim to make this year, with grants starting at $20 million.
  • The money funds projects that must be completed by 2029.
  • Small nonprofits are encouraged to team up with public entities — such as school districts and private companies — so they have the capacity to deliver large projects.

Follow the money: The funds come from a 1% surcharge on large retailers.

Friction point: Members of the public called in to last week's virtual meeting, and around a dozen encouraged board members to stick by what they say was the intention of the measure, which voters approved in 2018.

  • Some callers wanted the money used for community projects rather than regular bureau projects such as replacing gas leaf blowers and remodeling the Keller Auditorium.

What they're saying: "If the city has other projects, they should find their own funding," said Nathalie Paravicini, representing the Pacific Green Party.

  • Paravicini said the money is for communities that have been "sidelined" when it comes to clean energy projects, and that every bidder should go through the same review process.

What's next: Applicants should submit letters of interest by May 10 and, if invited, applications by July 16.


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