Solar Rebate Needed

At Seeds for the Sol, we are clear that addressing climate change is crucial for Oregon’s future. The Clean Energy Jobs Bill (HB 2020A) can help that happen. In solidarity with a strong coalition across the state, we are supporting that legislation.

HB 2020A addresses three needs that are critical for our future: a strong clean energy economy that caps and permanently reduces greenhouse gas emissions, natural and working lands sequestering CO2, and climate resiliency across the state. If you want to learn more, you can start here.

We need your help now!

FIND YOUR STATE SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE:
Use this link to find your state senator’s and state representative’s contact info

KEY TALKING POINTS WHEN CALLING YOUR LEGISLATOR
Ask them to fund and pass HB 2020A, the Clean Energy Jobs bill, because:

  • It will create jobs and save health care costs—it will be good for Oregon’s economy WHILE setting a standard for greenhouse gas reductions.
  • A broad coalition of Oregonians—representing environmental, equity, public health, business, rural, tribal, and labor union interests—have shaped this policy.
  • It will position Oregon as a national leader in finding an equitable and just transition to a clean energy economy.

EXAMPLE EMAIL YOU CAN SEND TO YOUR LEGISLATOR

Dear [insert Legislator name],
Please fund and pass HB 2020A, the Clean Energy Jobs bill. The bill will make Oregon a leader in our country, and we need leaders to show us how to make an equitable and just transition to a clean energy economy. The bill has is supported by a broad coalition of Oregonians representing many segments of the state, including environmental, equity, public health, business, rural, tribal, and labor union interests. It will help lead us to our greenhouse gas goals. Every day, more citizens are realizing there is no issue as important as addressing our planet’s climate crisis. It’s time to ACT.

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CHS Celebrates Solar Array

Education, Feb 21, 2019

As Corvallis School District Superintendent Ryan Noss finished speaking at a Wednesday afternoon ceremony celebrating the installation of a new rooftop solar array at Corvallis High School, he remarked that the weather would be nice enough for attendees to go outside and look at the array.

“Mother Nature is on our side,” he said.

“‘Mother Nature is on our side.’ That should be on a bumper sticker,” said Julie Williams, a CHS teacher and adviser for the school’s Green Club, following Noss’ comment. She added that the world would be in better shape if more people realized that and tried to act on it through things like building more solar arrays.

At the event, billed as a “Solarbration,” Williams said her students in the Green Club had been working to have the 117-kilowatt array installed since 2007. “12 years too long,” she said.

Students in the Green Club helped raise some of the nearly $266,000 cost of installation. Other funds for the array came from the Energy Trust of Oregon, the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative and Benton Electric, Inc., which installed the array in September and owns the array.

 

Read more….

Williams and YouCAN awarded annual County Environmental Honors

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Board of Commissioners Office
for Benton County

Julie Williams and YouCAN received the  Benton County Environmental Awards at the 6th annual Environmental Issues Advisory Committee public forum on October 25, 2018 at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

Julie Williams has been an advocate for community solar since 2001, and is the founder of Seeds for the Sol: Community Solar, Giving Power to the People.

Seeds for the Sol is a non-profit, grass-roots organization that makes it easier for low- and middle-income homeowners to afford solar systems. Seeds for the Sol help homeowners finance solar arrays using zero-interest loans, as well as tax incentives. Homeowners’ out-of-pocket cost are typically less than $2,200, plus a $150 processing fee. In addition, Seeds for the Sol provides homeowners with an experienced solar mentor, as well as contracts and a list of local installers.

Additionally, Williams is a teacher at Corvallis High School. Her concern for the impending climate crisis has motivated her to create and teach the course, “Sustainability and Society.”

The Benton County Environmental Issues Advisory Committee is honored to award Julie Williams with the 2018 Individual Environmental Award.

Read more….

First solar house party

James Day, Gazette Times, Updated

“You people are the guinea pigs,” said Annette Mills. “This is our first solar house party, and we’re going to keep having them monthly until we run out of hosts or everybody has solar on their roof.” Mills, facilitator of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and three other members of the coalition’s Harvest Sunshine team, held an informational event on solar power at the northwest Corvallis home of Charlie Miller and Martha Clemons.

More than 20 people participated Wednesday and heard presentations on financing and other issues. And the guests came loaded with questions. The basic model discussed was a 4.7 kilowatt system that costs $12,400. After rebates and tax incentives, the homeowner usually is out just $2,600 — and then reaps the future benefit of drastically reduced energy costs. Clemons, Mills and Julie Williams of the nonprofit Seeds for the Sol all noted that their electricity bill is essentially zero, with their only payment being the standard hookup fee.

“We generate more than we use,” Clemons said. “The power company keeps track, and we use in winter what we gain in the summer. Every time we generate 3KW per day we are banking electricity for later. I’m disappointed when I wake up and it’s foggy.” Miller noted that adding solar “helps you learn to cut back what you use. I’ve learned to keep my washing machine unplugged.” Mills added that it’s “also important to take other efficiency measures — insulation, LEDs and turning off lights.”

Party participants came from as far away as Albany and South Corvallis and the questions ranged widely, from the influence of trees, to insurance, reliability issues, how many panels should be used and which direction they should face. Tree cover can be tough to work around, said Cassandra Robertson, a member of the Harvest Sunshine team and co-owner of Abundant Solar. Robertson said that the tax credits require that an installation be at least 70 percent efficient.

Another challenge for solar is the politics of tax credits. The federal credit, which is worth about $3,000 per year, is set to run for another five years, but the $6,000 state tax credit sunsets at the end of this year unless the Oregon Legislature acts to continue it. Homeowners who install by Dec. 31 would get the full state tax credit even if legislators do not renew it, but those installing after Jan. 1 would be out of luck.

Harvest Sunshine is an initiative of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, which has a goal of doubling the amount of rooftop solar by the end of 2020. In year one, the project increased the solar electricity production to 4,643 megawatts, a 13 percent increase. The group hopes to get to 10MW by 2020. “This is a significant increase,” Mills said, “but we need to dramatically step up the pace of shifting to renewable energy in order to meet our goal and to combat climate change.”

Miller showed the participants the DC to AC inverter box just outside his back door, and everybody gathered in the street to look at the rooftop panels. The roof has a number of skylights that forced installers to be a bit creative with placement. Also, the roof faces east. A southern exposure is best for solar, but Clemons and Miller have had no trouble generating the juice that they need.


Contact reporter James Day at

  • email: [email protected]
  • phone: 541-758-9542
  • twitter: Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day

 

Inspired by Climate Reality training

Julie Williams, Seeds for the Sol by Amy Hunter on Vimeo.

Inspired by her Climate Reality training, Julie Williams created this innovative wealth-sharing program that provides zero interest loans to homeowners for solar installations. Using investments by “Sun Buddy’ donors who get paid back by tax credits and rebates; this is a community-based solution for ramping up clean energy solutions in Corvallis, OR. USA.
Kate Feldman

See an example of installations costs.

Nominated for Benton County Environmental Award

The Benton County Board of Commissioners and Environmental Issues Advisory Committee nominated Seeds for the Sol, local non-profit, for the Third-Annual Benton County Environmental Award.

Many Benton County individuals and organizations in the community accomplish a great deal for the health of our environment through their hard work, dedication and vision. The Benton County Board of Commissioners and EIAC created this award to recognize the year’s most outstanding environmental contributions in the community.

Winners demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship that goes beyond compliance with regulatory requirements. Seeds for the Sol has helped 30 Corvallis homeowners put solar panels on their homes, with zero-interest loans provided by community members in a unique wealth-sharing program.

Corvallis competes for $5M prize

The Georgetown University Energy Prize challenges towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency.

Currently, a select group of communities are leading the way by bringing together their local governments, residents, utilities, and to demonstrate success in reducing energy consumption over a two-year period.

 

About the Prize

Competition Overview

What if communities across the country came together, in the spirit of friendly competition, to significantly raise the bar on energy efficiency?
That’s where the Georgetown University Energy Prize comes in. This multi -year, $5 million prize was born of a mission to tap the imagination, creativity, and spirit of competition between communities across the country to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations.

Through this competition, communities will be challenged to work together with their local governments and utilities in order to develop and begin implementing plans for innovative, replicable, scalable and continual reductions in the per capita energy consumed from local natural gas and electric utilities.

The 50 Semifinalists have developed a long-term energy efficiency plan, and are now demonstrating its initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. Communities will be judged in part on their ability to:

  • Spur innovative approaches for communities to decrease their per-capita energy usage;
  • Highlight best practices for communities working with utilities, businesses, and their local governments to create and implement inventive plans for sustained energy efficiency;
  • Educate the public and engage students in energy efficiency issues including methods, benefits, and the environmental costs of the full fuel cycle;

A city, town or county need not finish first in the Georgetown University Energy Prize in order to win. Every competing community that demonstrates energy savings over previous years will be winners—providing benefits to members of the community not only today, but for future generations as well.

The Rules of Rivers

Local celebrated writer, Kathleen Dean Moore, and one of the original Sun Buddies, shares her experience taking individual grassroots action against climate change.  Her participation in Seeds for the Sol is yet another rock in the river, hoping to change the course of a racing torrent.  Please enjoy the short story…

The Rules of  Rivers

by Kathleen Dean Moore, 2013

At midnight on the Toklat River in the Alaska Range, the thermometer recorded 93 degrees. The sun, dragging anchor in the northwest sky, fired rounds of heat against the cabin. I was lying naked on the bunk, slapping mosquitos. Next to the wall, my husband lay completely covered by a white sheet, as still and dismayed as a corpse. He would rather be hot than bitten, and I would rather be bitten than hot.

I had come to the Toklat River to think about global warming, and it wasn’t going well. The week’s heat was breaking all-time records, drawing a new spike on the graph of jaggedly rising temperatures in Alaska. The average day is now four degrees warmer than just a few decades ago, and seven degrees warmer in winter. The Arctic is heating twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Furious and despairing, I had no chance of falling asleep that night. So I pulled on clothes and walked to the bank of the river.

The Toklat is a shallow river that braids across a good half mile of gravel beds, dried stream courses and deep-dug channels. Sloshing with meltwater, it clatters along among islands and willow thickets. Banging rocks on cobblestones, surging into confused swells, the grey currents looked unpredictable and chaotic. But there were patterns.

A hydrologist once explained the rules of rivers to me as we walked a river-path. The processes of a river are manifestations of energy, he said. A fast, high-energy river will carry particles – the faster the river, the bigger the particle. But when it loses energy and slows, the river drops what it carries. So anything that slows a river can make a new landscape. It could be a stick lodged against a stone or the ribcage of a calf moose drowned at high water. Where the water piles against the obstacle, it drops its load, and an island begins to form. The island – in fact, any deposition — reshapes the current. As water curls around the obstacle, the current’s own force turns it upstream. Around one small change, the energy reorganizes itself entirely.

And here’s the point: No one pattern continues indefinitely; it always gives way to another. When there are so many obstacles and islands that a channel can no longer carry all its water and sediment, it crosses a stability threshold and the current carves a different direction.  The change is usually sudden, often dramatic, the hydrologist said, a process called an ‘avulsion.’

On the Toklat that night, the physics of the river played out right in front of me. A chunk of dirt and roots toppled from the bank upstream, tumbled past me, and jammed against a mid-river stone. The current, dividing itself around the rootball, wrinkled sideways and turned upstream. It curled into pocket-eddies behind the roots. Even as I watched, the pockets filled with gravel and sand. A willow could grow there, and its roots could divide and slow the river further, gathering more gravel, creating a place where new life could take root.

I shoved a rock into the river. The sudden curl of current made me grin.

Yes, we are caught up in a river rushing toward a hot, stormy, and dangerous planet. The river is powered by huge amounts of money invested in mistakes that are dug into the very structure of the land, a tangled braid of fearful politicians, preoccupied consumers, reckless corporations, and bewildered children – everyone, in some odd way, feeling helpless. Of course, we despair. How will we ever dam this flood?

But we don’t have to stop the river. Our work and the work of every person who loves this world – this one – is to make one small deflection in complacency, a small obstruction to profits, a blockage to business-as-usual, then another, and another, to change the energy of the flood. As it swirls around these snags and subversions, the current will slow, lose power, eddy in new directions, and create new systems and structures that change its course forever. On these small islands, new ideas will grow, creating thickets of living things and life-ways we haven’t yet imagined. Those disruptions can turn destructive energy into a new dynamic that finally reverses the forces that would wreck the world.

This is the work of disruption. This is the work of radical imagination. This is the work of witness. This is the steadfast, conscientious refusal to let a hell-bent economy force us to row its boat. This is much better than stewing in the night.

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