The Hood River Conservation Project was an unprecedented direct installation weatherization project implemented between 1983 and 1985 in Hood River and Wasco Counties, Oregon. The Project was conceived by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which enlisted the cooperation of Pacific Power & Light Company, Bonneville Power Administration, the Hood River Electric Cooperative, the Northwest Power Planning Council, the Northwest Public Power Association, and the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee. All of these groups participated in a Regional Advisory Group, providing input and reaching consensus on decisions regarding project planning, implementation, and follow-up research.
In achieving its goals, HRCP was phenomenally successful. Although energy savings were less than predicted, the project was able to meet its objectives, particularly in regard to evaluation. The conclusions and recommendations developed by HRCP have been useful in a variety of other DSM plans.
Many facets of HRCP made it unique. A detailed evaluation plan was developed, which included a community assessment and household surveys in three communities before the project began. The project had a continuing commitment to the collection and management of high-quality data, and to reporting not only its successes, but also its failures. The project sought to remove any economic barriers from the weatherization process. On average, homeowners contributed a mere 1% of the cost to install any of 15 weatherization measures, which ranged from enhanced insulation to water heater wraps, while HRCP paid the remaining 99%.
HRCP had an ambitious time schedule, in which energy audits were to be conducted and recommended installations completed within a two year period. The Project was successful in staying within its time constraints, thanks to the flexibility of project managers to change certain conventions, such as elimination of the requirement that only local contractors be used.
The Project sought to achieve 100% participation at a time when typical participation rates in utility-sponsored conservation programs were on the order of 3% to 6%. A comprehensive marketing strategy was developed in hopes of meeting that goal, but community interest was so high that a 91% participation rate was achieved and most of the marketing budget was never used.
Data collection goals and research efforts were designed prior to project startup, and continued dialogue between evaluators and implementers insured that the research goals could be met even as the project specifics remained flexible enough to deal with unforeseen difficulties.
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