A Solar Forward Story
Portland's Southwest Community Center, prior to the installation of the 10kW solar electric system, now on the center's roof.
By Ron McDowell, Solar Oregon Board Member
When the neighborhood Solarize campaign came to southwest Portland in 2010, long-time Hayhurst neighborhood residents Beth and Richard Clucas were one of the first families to sign up. They support renewable energy and wanted to see if they could install solar on their residence alongside neighbors who were doing the same. They did some research, attended a Solar Oregon workshop, and then signed up to have the solar contractor do an assessment on their roof. John Patterson, Mr. Sun Solar, arrived at the Clucas’s residence and conducted the solar resource assessment, but in the end he had bad news. Their house wouldn’t be one of the 168 homes that saw solar installed during this campaign – just too much shade on their roof.
“We really wanted to solarize our house,
but we have several large trees on our
property which make it impossible to
accomplish. We know that the use of solar
energy is essential for the environment
and energy consumption, so we were
disappointed that it doesn't work for us,”
said Beth Blenz-Clucas. "We're hoping as
the technology improves and the panels
get smaller, we can find a sunny spot on
our roof so that we may join the efforts to
make SW Portland more sustainable."
The Southwest Community Center (SWCC) is adjacent to Gabriel Park which is close by to their neighborhood, so Beth and Richard visit the SWCC multiple times a week for Zumba and Body Buff classes. Richard says, "The SWCC is such a boon to the community. These classes certainly help us stay healthy.” The Clucas’ have a connection to the place, so when they heard that SWCC would be the recipient of an electric solar array as the first site chosen under the new Solar Forward program, they were compelled to participate.
They liked the idea that by installing a solar array, SWCC will be offsetting a portion of their electricity consumption with clean power generation, and that it will also lower community carbon emissions. Beth explained, “It makes a great gift with community benefits.” Consequently, they donated a tax-deductible contribution to help seed the Solar Forward fund. In return, the Clucas’ will receive permanent recognition at the host site and have the feel-good benefit of paying it forward.
The Solar Forward program provided them the opportunity to go solar and help support Portland’s efforts to transition to renewable energy. The Clucas’ also appreciated that this new kind of community funded solar program offers opportunities to a wider range of Portlanders, many whom are renters, or homeowners who simply cannot afford to purchase or lease a solar system by themselves.
“This like a community garden for people without backyards,” stated Richard Clucas, “community solar allows neighbors to support a more resilient city with clean energy from the sun.”
To learn more about Solar Forward or to participate see: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/solarforward