PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA:
June 5, 2023
Phoenix-Talent Schools Secure $1 Million for Resilient Energy Project
Talent Middle and Elementary is one of six Rogue Valley projects to receive community energy grant
[TALENT, OR] After a year of community organizing and strategizing, Talent Middle and Elementary Schools secured a $1 million dollar grant from the Community Renewable Energy Program (CREP) to install solar panels and backup battery storage. This brings the schools one step closer to becoming a community resilience hub—a place people in their communities can turn to for support in the face of the increasing extreme weather and climate disasters that the Rogue Valley has been experiencing with more frequency in the past few years.
Designs for this project have been developed as part of the Energy Storage for Social Equity Initiative, a technical assistance program organized by the US Department of energy to support 14 communities across the county to leverage energy storage technology to promote resilience. Five local groups, Rogue Climate, the Phoenix-Talent School District, the City of Talent, Solarize Rogue, and the Rogue Action Center all teamed up on behalf of this project.
The long-term vision for Talent Middle and Elementary School is to create a system where energy produced and stored on the campuses can be used to power the two schools, and in an emergency scenario provide days of backup energy. The grant funding will go towards ground mounted solar and a battery on the middle school campus.
After the Almeda and Obenchain Fires of 2020, the cities of Talent and Phoenix in Oregon lost power for a week. The Phoenix-Talent School (PTS) District, including staff and teachers, worked to support the families that rely on them throughout all of the challenges their students have faced, including a pandemic and the devastating wildfire. Now, Talent Middle and Elementary schools will be even more equipped to support community energy needs before, during, and after emergencies.
Jon McCalip, the PTS Director of Facilities and Projects, said he stood up off his recliner and cheered after receiving news of the grant at home about two weeks ago. “It’s a major win and I was super excited,” he said. According to McCalip, the solar panels, which will be installed in an open field behind the playground at Talent Middle School, and the project is estimated to be completed by June 2024.
Solar panels and battery storage will save the district approximately $13,000 a year in energy costs. They will also provide TMS with about 500 hours of battery backup, which can be a resource for community needs like food and medicine storage, clean air, heating and cooling, and more during power outages. Funding this project through grants and public investment shows the network of community support surrounding the endeavor.
“This award of $1 million to the Phoenix-Talent School District is the beginning of seeing resilience hubs in Southern Oregon” said Maeve Hogan, Energy Resilience Organizer at Rogue Climate. “Rogue Climate is thrilled to be partnered with the schools in this effort, and we look forward to this vision becoming a reality, and providing an example for other schools and institutions in Southern Oregon”.
This victory comes full circle for the Rogue Valley community members, partners, and local legislators who worked to pass House Bill 2021B that created the Community Renewable Energy Program (CREP) funding in 2021. “The heart of HB2021 was to ensure that Oregon’s transition to equitable energy systems included true benefits for underserved communities, especially as we adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change,” said Alessandra de la Torre, Advocacy and Programs Director, Rogue Climate. “It is so exciting to see our community and policy vision coming to fruition now.”
Among 39 total recipients of the Community Renewable Energy Program, five other Rogue Valley community energy or resilience projects received a total of $2,400,475 of funding from the Oregon Department of Energy grants, including the Medford School District, Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University, the City of Ashland, and the City of Talent.
For more information about this project and how the Energy Storage for Social Equity Initiative has been involved in Talent and Phoenix, visit the Story Map: Building Resilience in Talent, OR