Solutions in Action


Project Info


The Dalles Community Renewable Energy Project

Location: The Dalles, Oregon
Project Launch Date: 2011
The DEC is a collective of college students within the Renewable Energy Technology (RET) program at CGCC and is highly active on campus and within the surrounding community of The Dalles, Oregon. This community renewable energy project - consisting of mixed energy technologies - would be a vehicle to educate the community about renewable energies and allow students in the RET program expand the classroom and showcase their learning. The photo renderings you see here are a sample of what the F2A Team has in mind once the project is complete.  

This project started to take shape after the February 2011 Clean Energy Forum. Focus Coordinator, Bob Calvert, was first inspired by the solar project work his friend and City of Ellensburg Resource Manager, Gary Nystedt, was doing with the Community Renewable Park in eastern Washington. The City of Ellensburg chose to partner with Central Washington University engineering students to bridge real world experience into their curriculum. The City of Ellensburg renewable park became a catalyst for diverse community involvement and Bob, and his co-Focus Coordinator Matthew Tumlinson, saw an opportunity to engage the community in The Dalles in the same way.

The Forum was used to bring together community leaders, campus administrators, and more RET students to collaborate on how best to implement a renewable energy project of their own.
  Since last spring, the students formed a core group of community and campus stakeholders to move the project forward. Primary discussions on how to fund, where to site and who to talk to laid groundwork in setting up relationships with the Public Utility District and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.  

Siting the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center as an ideal location, the renewable energy park will be designed to reduce the cost of electricity - currently estimated at $5,000 a month! -  as well as becoming an extension of the many interactive and educational exhibits the Center offers its patrons. An unexpected hurdle was recognizing that the Discovery Center was not completely energy efficient, but a generous energy audit credit was applied by the Bonneville Power Administration to make sure that the project was not just a fancy bandage, but actually addressed the power performance of the building. As an added bonus, the RET students may get the chance to shadow the energy auditors to learn more about the process and how it connects to the park. The Discovery Center is located right on the Columbia, overlooking the scenic Columbia River Gorge. This poses a unique challege for the F2A Team, the project needs to maintain the aesthetics of the location and still be functional.  The design needs to consider the height profile and reflectivity of different energy technology models. The next stage of the project will be an opportunity for students to apply for proper scenic siting through the Gorge Planning Commission.  
We'll post many more project updates below as the students return and set the wheels to turning again. For a Campus Advisor perspective on the project, check out the blog post from Abigail Brown, former RET Program Advisor and 2010-2012 Campus Advisor.
Our friends at Climate Solutions took a film crew out to Columbia Gorge Community College and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center as part of their Solution Stories project showcasing the energy transition in the Northwest. Check out CGCC's 'Solution Story' here!   Discovering Renewable Energy from Climate Solutions on Vimeo.
Get Involved

F2A Team

David Castle
David Castle

David Castle began working with the F2A Team in fall 2011 as a team member and Delta Energy Club member. He quickly added his skillful eye to designing multiple photo renderings of potential renewable park plans; his photos and design elements are what you see above. Since finishing his Renewable Energy Technology certification at CGCC in spring 2012, he has since become gainfully employed with GE as a wind technician.

Dan Spatz
Dan Spatz

Mr. Dan Spatz is the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer at Columbia Gorge Community College as well as a councilor for The Dalles City Council. Mr. Spatz has been aiding the project by connecting students to key community members and building awareness for the project on the civic level.

Carolyn Purcell
Carolyn Purcell

Carolyn Purcell is the Executive Director of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, a scenic living museum located in The Dalles, Oregon.

Paul Cook
Paul Cook
Paul took the lead as the Focus Coordinator for Columbia Gorge Community College in fall 2012, but has been a part of the Delta Energy Club and the Renewable Energy Technology program since fall 2011. He has effectively managed his team of student renewable energy engineers to start breaking ground on the community renewable park. Through collaborating with community and campus members alike and drafting a land use application, he and his team are ready to present their renewable energy park design to the Wasco County Planning Department and make this project a reality.
When he's not designing new systems of community energy generation, Paul looks for new avenues to advace his wind technician expertise by earning his Renewable Energy Technology Certificate from Columbia Gorge Community College, an American Wind Energy Association certified program.



Apr 23, 2013

Ready To Build
by Sasha Tenzin
It's been a long road to getting where we are today with the Discovery Center Community Solar Project and we're not quite ready to cross the finish line yet, but we have gained a lot of support in the last year to help us get here.

On the support board we have: Bonneville Environmental Foundation, The Northern Wasco Public Utility District, The City of The Dalles, The Columbia Gorge Commission, The Friends of the Gorge, the Columbia Gorge Community College, and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center! We're very pleased to join those crucial supporters in empowering our students to take this project to the next level.

Stay tuned, some exciting stuff is about to happen!
View Comments (3)
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Dec 16, 2014 at 6:59 PM

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Mar 27, 2012

Picturing The Future
by Sasha Tenzin

Our Focus Coordinators are working diligently with community stakeholders from The Dalles to determine the most ideal place to build an educational community renewable park; the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is pulling ahead of the pack as a great location to localize the power and engage community in energy literacy and innovation.

The photos you see here are renderings from F2A team member, Dave Castle, from the Columbia Gorge Community College. His design layout  is still in discussion to see what would work best for the Center and the community.

More updates on the way!

View Comments (1)
ion liga says:
There are some elements that are true to my life. Being an actor in Taiwan, there's not that much work and - because the industry doesn't really create enough films for them to subsist financially - I did play the stock market. Even as I was shooting this film, I was playing the stock market and - when I was making a lot of money - it showed on camera. But then when I wasn't making enough, it likewise affected the tone of the film.
Nov 14, 2014 at 5:35 AM

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