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March 30, 2010

PSU and PGE Form Strategic Sustainable Alliance

Portland, Ore. — Portland General Electric, the region’s major urban utility, and Portland State University, the region’s major urban university, have formed a long-term strategic partnership to promote the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the Portland metro area.

PGE President Jim Piro and PSU President Wim Wiewel signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the alliance at a ceremony March 30, 2010. In addition, Piro also announced a $50,000 grant from the PGE Foundation in support of a new Renewable Energy Research Lab at Portland State.

The PSU and PGE partnership emerged from a joint task force appointed by Presidents Piro and Wiewel to investigate potential efforts that would contribute to a common vision of Portland as a leader in developing and implementing urban sustainability.

“To meet the challenges of Oregon’s energy future and serve our customers in the most sustainable, cost-effective way possible, strategic alliances with forward-thinking institutions like PSU are more critical than ever,” said Jim Piro, president and CEO, PGE. “Working together with Portland State, we will train tomorrow’s energy leaders and develop smart, sustainable solutions for powering our region.”

“Partnerships like this are the way forward for universities like PSU,” said PSU President Wim Wiewel. “We have always been deeply involved in working with and for the region. Rather than just looking for philanthropy, we are looking to work with business and other partners to work jointly on research, education, and demonstration projects that serve our mutual interest — as well as those of Portland and Oregon. This project is a perfect example of that and we look forward to a very productive relationship.”

PSU and PGE will work together on research, economic development, community projects and professional training aligned with two main themes: “Urban Mobility” and “Integration of Energy and Sustainable Design.” The goal is to leverage this work in support of a strong and vibrant regional economy.

Urban Mobility
The Portland metro region is positioned to be the leading U.S. launch market for electric vehicles. PSU and PGE have already worked together on planning for deployment of electric vehicles, by sponsoring the EV Road Map conference in November 2009 and other events convening industry, government and academic leaders.

Moving forward, PSU and PGE will continue to lead EV planning and education events, including a June 2010 seminar featuring keynote speaker, Robbie Diamond, the executive director of the Electrification Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to mass deployment of EVs. Future work studying charging station infrastructure issues, rolling out test vehicle fleets, analyzing consumer response, and policy development. PSU and PGE will also work to bolster the region’s growing electric vehicle manufacturing, charging and supplier industry.

Integration of energy and sustainable design
A sustainable built environment requires innovations in how we design and power urban areas. To this end PSU and PGE are already working together on issues such as creating and implementing smart grid technologies. With financial and technical support from PGE, PSU has offered a two-term course, “Planning the Smart Grid for Sustainable Communities,” through the Hatfield School of Government in 2009 and again in 2010, bringing together graduate students and professionals to better understand the challenges related to creating a smart grid.

PGE has also contributed to a National Science Foundation-funded project at PSU, studying how solar panels and green roofs can be installed together on buildings to improve energy generation and efficiency.

PSU and PGE will continue to study the connections between energy and sustainable design, while also creating test sites for these technologies, through ecodistricts, the Oregon Sustainability Center and other locations.

New renewable energy research lab
In support of this partnership, the PGE Foundation has committed $50,000 over two years to establish the PGE Foundation Renewable Energy Research Laboratory. The lab will be located in PSU’s Science Research and Teaching Complex (Science Building 2), currently undergoing renovation and expansion.

Erik Johansson, a new chemistry faculty member joining PSU in fall 2010, will manage the lab. Johansson will use the lab to investigate how semiconductor photovoltaic and photo-electrochemical devices—which may be used for splitting water to store solar energy in chemical bonds as hydrogen gas—may be made more efficient. The lab will also expand capacity for research and teaching in other sustainability initiatives and faculty at PSU, including aerosols and climate, renewable energy and urban transportation.

Through the new partnership, PSU and PGE will work with other partners, where appropriate, and will leverage additional funding for projects.

For more on the task force recommendation and ways that PSU and PGE plan to address urban mobility and the integration of energy and sustainable design, visit the PSU Web site.

The PGE Foundation, the corporate foundation of Portland General Electric, was established in 1997 as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with a permanent endowment. The Foundation’s giving is separate from the corporate giving of PGE. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $12.4 million to help improve the quality of life for all Oregonians by supporting statewide programs and services that encourage healthy families, provide educational opportunities and encourage the arts and cultural diversity. Gwyneth Gamble Booth is chair and Carole Morse is president.

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