The Portland Clean Energy Fund distributed $107 million in green energy project grants in 2022.
The Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) distributed its second round of grant funding in 2022, doling out $107 million to 65 projects slated to reduce carbon emissions, expand the green energy workforce, and lower Portlanders’ utility bills. The grants came with a condition that allowed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which houses PCEF, to revoke the grant in the 45 days following the award pending further review, a condition that was added after the city discovered problems with a previous PCEF grant recipient’s experience after the first funding round.
In the fall, city leaders opted to restructure the way PCEF grants are awarded to better align the monied fund with Portland’s climate goals. In 2023, PCEF will award grants based on a climate investment plan, which dictates priority funding areas that PCEF staff will use to evaluate and award grants.
185 Portlanders got a ride to a cooling shelter from Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) volunteers during the historic, week-long heat wave in July.
As heatwaves become a more common occurrence in Portland, the city’s been forced to pivot quickly to deploying emergency assistance to heat-vulnerable Portlanders. When it comes to transporting Portlanders to cooling shelters during heat waves, the city has turned to Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) volunteers—over 2,000 volunteers trained to respond in emergency situations. While NETs were originally created in 1994 to respond to the 9 magnitude earthquake that will eventually rock the West Coast, they have a growing role in Portland’s response to climate emergencies.
In late 2021, the bureau of emergency management piloted a city-run transport service to operate during extreme weather events and staffed it with NET volunteers. During the week-long heatwave in July 2022, 112 volunteers were able to respond to requests for transport in 15 minutes or less and drove 185 Portlanders to cooling shelters.
Days it took Portland officials to approve Zenith Energy’s plan to phase out crude oil operations by 2027: 18
Number of environmental and community organizations calling on the city to rescind the agreement with Zenith: 20
Portland has been in a legal battle with oil transporter Zenith Energy since 2021, when the city denied the company a land permit it needs to operate, determining that Zenith’s work with crude oil was in conflict with the city’s climate goals. On September 15, Zenith announced it reapplied for a land use permit, this time with a promise to phase out all of its crude oil operations and transport 96.5 percent renewable fuels by mid-2027. Portland quickly evaluated Zenith’s proposal and granted the land use permit 18 days later after finding that the proposal followed the city’s climate plans.
Twenty environmental and community organizations have since called for the city to rescind the permit—which it is allowed to do before Zenith receives a new air permit from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, likely some time in 2023. The critics argue that the city did not properly engage community members who are impacted by Zenith’s operations and that Portland has historically not been able to trust Zenith’s reports on the types of fuel it is transporting.
The city invested $2.4 million in programs that address climate change in its annual budget—which adds up to about 0.03 percent of the total budget.
Portland leaders approved a $2.4 million investment in mitigating climate change in the city budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The investment is the largest dedicated funding the city has allocated towards addressing climate change since declaring a climate emergency in 2020. Yet city staff and environmental activists still consider the investment to be just a drop in the bucket, considering the investment was just 0.03 percent of the total $6.8 billion budget.