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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.

CHS, which has a guarantee that it can buy power from the array at below-market rates, stands to save $21,000 in electricity costs over the next 10 years through the agreement. At that point the school has the right to buy the panels, a move predicted to save the school more than $300,000 in electricity costs over the remaining years of functionality for the panels.

Williams said now that the model of funding solar arrays through a variety of sources had been figured out, it was a model that could be replicated elsewhere.

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Referencing predictions that humans have just 11 years to switch to generating the majority of its power through renewable resources in order to avert the most severe effects of climate change, Williams said more solar arrays like the one at CHS are needed.

“We need to have a lot more ‘Solarbrations,’” she said.

The school did have a smaller solar array previously, Williams said, but it was only powerful enough to run a hair dryer.

Green Club co-presidents Lauren Reichman and Mary Rogers both spoke at the event.

“Being a part of (addressing climate change) means a lot to me,” said Rogers, a senior. “It means we have a chance to contribute. It’s awesome we were able to accomplish something as a community.”

Reichman said the solar array isn't all the club does — last month, it also established a composting program for the school.

She added that people should take action now and educate themselves and others on ways to address climate change. 

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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