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Ashland's Wandersheid takes job with Bonneville Environmental Foundation

ASHLAND — Director of Electric Utilities Dick Wanderscheid, who built successful water and electricity conservation programs for the city, has accepted a new job with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Wanderscheid began working for the city in 1979 and has served in a variety of positions. His last day will be Dec. 31.

"Under his leadership, the city of Ashland emerged as a role model for other communities seeking to implement aggressive conservation programs and the use of solar energy," said Mayor John Stromberg.

In 1982, before the city of Ashland launched electricity conservation programs, Ashlanders used 8,483 kilowatt hours of electricity per capita.

Despite the proliferation of energy-consuming products such as microwaves and computers, per-capita electricity use in Ashland dipped to 8,446 kilowatt hours in 2007, the latest figures available.

In Oregon, per-capita electricity use spiked from 9,426 to 13,023 kilowatt hours between 1982 and 2006. United States per-capita electricity use rose from 6,984 to 12,268 kilowatt hours from 1982 to 2006, the latest year figures are available.

The city of Ashland started water conservation programs in 2000. That year, each person was using an average of 182 gallons each day.

In 2007, that number had dipped to 154 gallons per day, although Wanderscheid cautioned that water use can vary significantly because of weather and water supplies.

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of renewable energy, watershed restoration and helping people shrink their carbon footprints, city officials said.

The foundation created a new position for Wanderscheid. As vice president of project management, he will manage a group of people who work in the Solar4Schools education program.

Under the program, solar systems are installed at schools to provide learning opportunities for students. More than 70 projects were completed in 2008, city officials said.

"It's been a great career here, but I had an opportunity open up that will allow me to pursue things I really love, which are education and renewable energy," Wanderscheid said. "It will be nice to operate at the regional and national level."

A longtime Ashland resident, he will move to Portland for his new job.

City Administrator Martha Bennett said she doesn't know yet what she will do about replacing Wanderscheid.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.