How green is our valley? On first glance, the facts seem impressive. Corvallis was the first West Coast city to be named an EPA Green Power Community. In 2005, Corvallis passed a resolution mandating seven percent green power be purchased for any city-owned facility. Students at OSU pay a green energy fee and Corvallisites purchase more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually.
More great examples can be found on local rooftops. First Alternative Natural Foods uses solar panels to power both stores and sells extra power to Corvallis residents. Both Fire Station #4 and Fire Station #1 use solar panels to produce electricity. But for those of us without the ability to self-produce power, choices can be difficult.
Many locals choose to spend more and feel better by purchasing their power from Blue Sky, owned by Pacific Power. The extra fee supports more renewable energy, but not necessarily in the customers’ home or community. Pacific Power’s program, for example, can be used to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates sold separately from actual megawatt hours. They instead represent that the power was created using renewable sources. These incentivize the green power market but do not necessarily bring cleaner energy into a Corvallis home or business.
As the graphics illustrate, the battle for renewable energy is not over. Truly renewable sources of energy represent but a drop of where we source our power.
By Bridget Egan