Energy Trust executive director issues clean energy challenge to Oregon

Michael Colgrove closed Tuesday’s Energy Future conference by calling for more aggressive clean energy policies.

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Colgrove relocated to Oregon eight months ago from New York to serve as Energy Trust’s executive director.

He said Oregon’s reputation as a environmental leader convinced him to take the job. “I see in Oregon the potential to reach real and significant environmental gains,” he says.

But he also said the state wasn’t doing enough given the scope of the challenges. 

Implementing more aggressive clean energy goals tops his list of priorities. Multnomah County committed to 100% renewable energy by 2050 just last week, a goal Colgrove would like to see apply statewide.

“Our own Sen. Merkley is thinking just as big for our entire country,” he says. Merkley has proposed a nationwide goal of 100% renewable energy. 

“I propose we need nothing short of our own Lewis and Clark expedition, if you will,” Colgrove says.

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Colgrove outlined a scenario in which Oregon becomes a net zero energy state.

He used Costa Rica as an example. The Central American country boasts 98.1% renewable energy use in 2016. The remaining demand was filled by diesel, but only as needed.

Costa Rica has access to hydro power, solar power and biomass energy, “not that dissimilar to Oregon,” Colgrove says.

Colgrove also called for financial incentives to boost innovative energy solutions.

“We need to tap into market forces that have been underutilized,” he says.

He issued a final challenge before the conference concluded.

“I would love to hear people say what we can’t possibly do because that’s a great place to start.”

Energy Trust works with homes and businesses on energy efficiency. The organization is also stepping up its focus on renewable energy solutions.