Corvallis Gets Greener

There’s a building in Corvallis, not far from Imagine Coffee or the Benton Habitat for Humanity, and county and city officials have big plans for it. The goal is to have this building, located at 4500 SW Research Way, have as close to a net-zero footprint as humanly possible. And it’s all starting with the roof.   

Solar panel installation is underway at 4500 SW Research Way thanks to a joint initiative between the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative. It’s the next project in Solarize Corvallis whose goal is to cover Corvallis roofs with solar arrays which are paid for in part by the local community.  

According to the press release issued by Benton County, “Solarize Corvallis uses community investment to finance solar and battery systems at Corvallis government buildings, low-income housing, non-profits and schools. Corvallis residents bought shares of stock in the Benton County project through the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, and will earn a return on their investment over a period of ten years.”  

The investment, combined with county funding, tax credits, and the Energy Trust of Oregon, helped to fund the 150 kilowatt Corvallis School District project and the 117 kilowatt solar project at Corvallis High School – which was completed in spring of 2018.   

Facilitator of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition Annette Mills said in the press release, “We’ve found that Corvallis residents have been eager to put their money to work in ways that benefit both the planet and our community. The response has been tremendous.” 

Even Mayor Biff Traber is a fan. “We have lots of trees shading our house, so we can’t put up solar panels,” he said in the press release, noting that as a private citizen, he has invested in several Corvallis solar projects. “So I was delighted to be able to join the community in investing in these solar projects.”  

Benton County bought the building at 4500 SW Research Way earlier this year.  

The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative is the only statewide cooperative in the U.S. solely dedicated to community-owned renewable energy. They are focused on member-financed projects as a means of keeping the money local while creating environmentally friendly jobs. The cooperative uses these community investments to “solarize” buildings from churches to nonprofits to schools around the state.   

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is a group of organizations and individuals in Corvallis who work toward sustainability in the community. Members come from a diverse set of backgrounds, faith communities, nonprofits, small and large businesses, educational and government entities. The coalition focuses on fostering communication and collaboration in order to accelerate progress toward a sustainable future for all.  

By Sally K Lehman