District Energy Systems in Eugene, Oregon: An analysis of opportunities + obstacles for success
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The City of Eugene has set aggressive goals to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce community fossil fuel use and adapt to a changing climate and increasing fossil fuel prices over the coming decades. Its Climate and Energy Action Plan named implementation of district energy in Eugene by 2015 as a goal of the City and its citizens, to be initiated by removing “legal, technical, policy, governance, and financial barriers to district energy systems.”1 The goal of this study is to identify the range of policy, governance and financial opportunities and obstacles to a district system in Eugene. It concludes with recommendations and next steps for removing these barriers. This project was sponsored by the City of Eugene department of Waste Reduction and Green Building. It presents an analysis of opportunities and obstacles to district energy in Eugene with the objective of identifying a spectrum of possible next steps for the municipal government. To identify possible obstacles, one neighborhood in Eugene – Walnut Station – was used as a model. While the study identifies local barriers and universal risk factors inherent to district energy, it also highlights some of the unique conditions that may assist the possible development of a district energy system. It finds that the key characteristic of feasibility is political will and public support for a system. Therefore, the primary goal of this study is to serve as an educational tool for policy makers when determining the extent of municipal involvement in a future district energy system.