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Medford receives federal 'Green' designation

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Medford as one of fewer than 50 cities nationwide to earned a Green Power Community label.

The recognition, which was announced at Thursday's City Council meeting, comes at the conclusion of Pacific Power's Blue Sky renewable energy challenge, which increased the number of residents supporting renewable energy by 25 percent since April. The effort was sponsored by the city, Pacific Power, the Heart of Medford Association and the Chamber of Medford-Jackson County.

"Gaining the Green Community honor was not part of the original goal," Mayor Gary Wheeler told the council. "Increasing participation by 25 percent was ambitious by itself. But as the challenge went on, and we were working so successfully with our partners, we were able to meet the EPA's strict requirements."

Medford is now one of 47 communities nationwide recognized as Green Power Communities based on the level of city government renewable energy purchases and resident participation in a renewable energy program such as Pacific Power's Blue Sky. In Oregon, 12 communities meet the stringent requirements for recognition, including Portland, Corvallis, Bend, Hood River and Cannon Beach.

Monte Mendenhall, regional community manager for Pacific Power, presented "Welcome to a Green Power Community" signs to the council.

"The effort that went into achieving these goals is significant and worth celebrating," he said.

The recognition will also be celebrated during the annual Medford Winter Lights Festival, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30.

The Blue Sky program allows Pacific Power customers to purchase renewable energy certificates from regional renewable energy facilities such as the Dry Creek landfill near Eagle Point. That allows electricity from the renewable resources to be delivered to the regional power pool, reducing the need for nonrenewable energy.

Blue Sky funding also provides grants for renewable energy development projects, with about $4 million awarded to 50 projects in the Northwest since 2006.