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Pillar 5: Strong Communities

PGE’s roots run deep in Oregon

PGE’s Sustainability Report

Pillar 5 - Strong Communities
Dave Robertson

“When our community is strong and vibrant, we all benefit. That’s why we strive to be a good neighbor and make a positive impact in the communities where we live, work and play. We appreciate the pioneering spirit of the people we serve and feel honored to be your energy partner and neighbor.”

Dave Robertson, Vice President, Public Policy

Story 1

Sustainability scholars

The Sustainability Scholars program is one of many targeted investments that we provide to students in Oregon. The program, which began in 2012, works with a select group of students at the Portland State University Honors College to give them both an enhanced course of study and, more critically, financial support toward their education.

Each year, the program offers two-year scholarships to eight students. The PGE Sustainability Scholars focus their work on the development of ”Smart Cities” — advanced cities that look to incorporate sustainability, spur economic development and create a smarter energy infrastructure through the use of technology and data.

During their sophomore year, the students concentrate on an urban ecology course in preparation for their honors thesis and a junior-year internship that addresses Smart City solutions for challenges like energy, air quality, wastewater management and climate change.

“I’m excited about receiving the PGE scholarship to work on Smart Cities projects,” said Fatima Preciado, second-year Honors College student. “I’m a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, and this is going to help me invest in my education and future, while helping people with diverse backgrounds have access to sustainable resources.”

Story 2

Junior Rangers program

We realized we were missing an opportunity to engage the community in important sustainability discussions at our parks. To get that conversation started, we introduced a new Junior Ranger program throughout all our PGE parks designed to help our young visitors learn and explore.

The program, which is modeled after similar National Parks programs, increases awareness about park stewardship, electricity safety, and the parks rules and regulations.

Our park attendants act as on-site program coordinators, registering participants and providing information about the Junior Ranger program. The coordinators’ primary focus is on engaging participants in activities that demonstrate how to protect and respect the natural environment. Once children have completed the program’s activities, they recite the Junior Ranger’s pledge, sign their certificate and receive a park-specific official Junior Ranger badge.

The program has been an instant success. More than 500 children have already achieved Junior Ranger status by demonstrating they know what it means to be an environmental champion and park advocate. As the program grows, we hope to actively engage with a more diverse group of visitors in this program.

What’s next

Smart, strong and equitable communities

As we make the transition to a decarbonized future, we are keenly aware of our responsibility to provide affordable access across PGE’s service area.

We provide an essential service that our customers rely on to power their lives and businesses. We have, for many years, worked closely with stakeholders to improve services and increase resources for our low income, medically fragile and non-English speaking customers. But, there’s more work to do.

We are committed to engaging stakeholders to ensure all customers —including those who are low-income, people of color, seniors and those with disabilities —can participate in the evolving energy landscape and benefit from new technologies and opportunities. As this conversation evolves, we are asking some initial questions:

  • When we are choosing locations for new technology, such as resiliency hubs and streetlight sensors, how are we making these decisions with equity and usability in mind?
  • How do we make investments in smart technology that avoid adversely affecting communities that have experienced historic and systemic barriers and, instead, potentially benefit these communities for decades to come?
  • How do we partner with others to acknowledge and eliminate racial, social and economic disparities in both urban and rural communities, and deepen our understanding of and support for policies and practices to advance equity, diversity and inclusion?

By engaging in this work at an early stage, we hope to build momentum around a smart, equitable future for every one of our customers.

For more information, check out the Strong Communities section of our Key Metrics summary.