The Eugene Water & Electric Board on Friday announced a series of grants for renewable energy projects and invited its Greenpower customers to vote on who gets the first award.
The local utility will make up to $100,000 available this spring for a single project, with smaller grants up to $25,000 available in the fall, said Tom Williams, EWEB’s key accounts manager.
The money for the projects comes from EWEB customers who buy renewable energy either in the form of $1.50 or $10 blocks of power, or who pay an extra penny per kilowatt-hour to support EWEB’s wind farm and solar power projects.
EWEB invests those revenues back into renewable energy, and decided that supporting smaller-scale local projects could benefit groups such as schools, nonprofit organizations and public agencies that normally wouldn’t have the money to finance them upfront, Williams said.
Letting customers who pay extra for sustainable energy help choose the first project is part reward for participants and encouragement for others to sign up, Williams said.
In 2008, just more than 3 percent of EWEB’s customers, about 3,000, paid the extra charges for renewable energy. Besides the regular customers, Greenpower also got a boost from two special events — the Eugene Marathon and Olympic Trials. Organizers for those events paid the extra premium because they wanted their events associated with renewable energy, Williams said.
Tax exempt nonprofit groups, academic and public institutions are eligible for the grants.
The application deadline is Feb. 15. Once EWEB has narrowed the applications to a handful of choices, Greenpower customers will be eligible to vote for their favorite option either online or by mail beginning in mid-March. EWEB will announce the grant recipient at the annual Earth Day Celebration on April 18.
More information is available at EWEB’s web site, http://www.eweb.org by clicking on the Greenpower logo or on the “Sustainability” button near the top of the page.