Merkley promotes locally inspired energy-efficiency plan

An energy efficiency plan inspired by a Portland lawmaker and the city of Portland’s new Clean Energy Works program could go national in a second-round economic stimulus bill being fashioned in the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon’s Democratic junior senator, in a Monday afternoon appearance before the Portland Tribune editorial board, said “it’s very likely” that the Oregon model for financing home energy-efficiency improvements will make it into the bill.

Merkley proposed the idea based on a law enacted by the 2009 Legislature and pushed by state Rep. Jules Bailey, D-Portland. The city of Portland became the first local government to experiment with the idea with its Clean Energy Works program.

The idea is to enable people to get low-cost loans to make home energy-saving projects, and pay back the money on their monthly utility bills. If payments are structured as envisioned, the savings on energy bills could equal the monthly loan repayments, so there is no additional monthly cost, or minimal cost, to the homeowner.