Warm Springs among 14 communities chosen to build cutting-edge energy storage capacity

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced this week that Warm Springs, Talent and Pendleton have been selected by federal officials to participate in a cutting-edge energy storage program to increase energy resilience in the face of increasingly dangerous weather events and a changing climate.

“Building out energy storage capacity is key as families in Oregon and across the nation have suffered severe impacts in recent years from the climate emergency in their communities – some losing power for days because of winter storms, and others losing their homes because of wildfires sparked by downed power lines,” said Wyden, who has introduced crucial legislation to harden power grids nationwide. “I am gratified Warm Springs, Talent and Pendleton qualify for consideration to receive assistance to build energy storage capacity. The climate fight must include a significant investment in keeping the lights on through extreme weather events to come.”

“Climate chaos is here and the ramifications of extreme temperatures, megafires, and floods have not only been destructive but have left many communities without power over the years,” said Merkley. “Strengthening our energy storage capacity is an important step to keeping lights on in our businesses, schools, and homes. I’m grateful these three Oregonian communities are leading the way and will be considered to receive additional assistance to increase storage capacity. These weather events aren’t going to disappear overnight, and I will continue to do everything I can to secure the necessary resources to ensure our community’s energy sources are safe and dependable.”

The assistance for the three Oregon communities and 11 others comes from the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity (DOE) Energy Storage for Social Equity (ES4SE) Initiative. The ES4SE supports underserved communities’ use of energy storage as a means of increasing resilience and maximizing energy flexibility in the face of a changing climate.

Selected as part of the first phase, these communities will receive technical support to better assess their energy challenges, evaluate solutions, and find partners to support the community in meeting its energy goals.

The second phase will focus on energy storage project development and deployment, where up to five communities within this group will be selected to begin installing and commissioning their projects.

Nationally, more than 65 percent of low-income households face a high energy burden and more than 30 percent of all households have experienced some form of energy insecurity. The ES4SE program will help communities make an equitable energy transition that prioritizes economic prosperity and environmental justice.

Along with the Warm Springs Community Action Team from Warm Springs, Rogue Climate from Talent, and Coyote Steals Fire Energy Group from Pendleton, other selected participants are as follows: 

  • Native Renewable from Flagstaff, Ariz. 
  • Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community and Western Energy Development from Trinidad, Calif.
  • Ayika Solutions Incorporated from Atlanta, Ga.
  • Ho??hu Energy Cooperative Molokai from Kaunakakai, Hawaii
  • Together New Orleans from New Orleans, La.
  • Honor the Earth from Callaway, Minn.
  • Coast Electric Power Association from Kiln, Miss.
  • Joule Community Power and Open Door Mission from Rochester, N.Y.? 
  • Makah Tribe from Neah Bay, Wa.
  • Klickitat Valley Health from Goldendale, Wa.? 
  • Oneida Nation from Oneida, Wis.

“These 14 organizations have shown admirable motivation to address the inequities plaguing their local energy systems and bring prosperity and quality of life to their communities,” said Dr. Imre Gyuk, director of OE’s Energy Storage Research in a DOE press release. “Community perspectives and voices should be widely acknowledged as we invest and plan our energy future.” 

“Coyote Steals Fire Energy Group (CSF Energy) is supporting the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation with the installation of a solar PV powered microgrid with energy storage capabilities for the Tribal community. CSF Energy is a Umatilla Tribal Member owned energy project management and consulting firm based in Pendleton, Oregon that’s been bringing energy to the people since 2021. The project team extends its sincere gratitude to all those who have supported this endeavor, including the Energy Storage for Social Equity technical assistance program and Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley,” said Patrick F. Mills, Vice President of Operations at Coyote Steals Fire Energy Group.

“Rogue Climate sees this as a great opportunity to begin work on the resiliency and storage aspects of the City of Talent’s Clean Energy Plan. In the aftermath of the Almeda fire, incorporating resilience is more urgent than ever. Talent aims to include clean energy infrastructure in the rebuilding process with an equity framework at the forefront, and the technical assistance with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will help us prioritize those who will benefit most from a more affordable and resilient energy system, while allowing our City Planning Department to prioritize their energy on rebuilding and bringing our community members back home. We are excited for this opportunity to work closely with the City of Talent, Solarize Rogue, and PNNL to create a shovel-ready project that the city can implement going forward,” said Maeve Hogan, Rogue Climate’s RARE AmeriCorps Resilience Organizer.