Solarize Corvallis begins installing solar panels at Benton County's building

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Solar panel installation is underway on Benton County’s building at 4500 SW Research Way. The installation is the next project in Solarize Corvallis, a joint initiative of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative whose goal is to cover Corvallis roofs with solar which are paid in part by the local community.

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 community investment is combined with funding from Benton County and other sources, including tax credits and the Energy Trust of Oregon. Investors in other Corvallis solar projects, including the 150 kilowatt Corvallis School District project and the 117 kilowatt solar project at Corvallis High School, recently received their annual repayment checks.

“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,” says Annette Mills, facilitator of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. “The response has been tremendous.”
“We have lots of trees shading our house, so we can’t put up solar panels,” says Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber. 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, and plans a renovation which will include extensive energy efficiency improvements. The goal is to make the building as close to net-zero energy as possible, and the new solar panels will make large gains towards that goal.

The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative is the only statewide cooperative in the United States dedicated solely to community-owned renewable energy. Their member-financed projects keep capital circulating locally, create green jobs, and enable Oregon communities to become more self-reliant through locally-generated clean power. Over the last several years, the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative has used community investment to build more than a dozen solar projects for schools, churches, nonprofits and municipalities around the state.

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is a network of organizations and individuals in Corvallis, Oregon who are working together to create a sustainable community. It includes businesses, nonprofit organizations, faith communities, educational institutions, and government entities—all committed to creating a community that values environmental quality, social equity, and economic vitality. The group’s primary purpose is to foster communication and collaboration, in order to accelerate progress toward a sustainable future.