Corvallis tops green cities list

Corvallis tops green cities list

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EPA report says city buys more renewable energy than any other in the nation

When it comes to green energy consumption, Corvallis is tops. Officially.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency report on its "green power communities," Corvallis buys more power from renewable resources than any other in the nation.

"There's a broad range of people who are making a commitment to renewables," said Mayor Charlie Tomlinson. "Many people making small contributions can make a big difference."

Green Power communities pledge to collectively buy green power in amounts that meet or exceed the corresponding percentage for the matching baseload electricity use level.

Locally, consumers and businesses are given the option of spending a bit more each month to buy power produced by wind, solar and biomass, rather than coal-fired generators.

Corvallis purchases more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, which amounts to 13 percent of the city's total purchased electricity.

According to the EPA, Corvallis' green power purchase is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 13,000 passenger vehicles per year. Put another way, it is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power more than 9,000 average American homes annually.

Green power options are offered locally from sources such as Pacific Power's Blue Sky, Consumers Power Coffin Butte Landfill Gas project and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The use of green power also supports the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide.

Oregon cities made up half of the top 10 green power purchasers.

Oregon State University is the largest single purchaser of green power in Corvallis, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the city's total, thanks to a "green energy" measure approved by students in 2007. OSU buys nearly 67 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually - enough to meet about 75 percent of its purchased electricity use.

"College towns with a university or college that are making a commitment to renewables are that much farther ahead," Tomlinson said.

Companies such as Hewlett-Packard also buy large amounts of renewable energy, which help push Corvallis' total over the top.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages the purchase of green power to reduce the environmental impact associated with electricity generation and use.

It currently includes more than 1,000 organizations which buy billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium-sized businesses, local, state and federal governments, and colleges and universities.

Tomlinson said his next step is to find some way to help keep money spent on green power within the community. That could mean local power generation or options for consumers including green power purchasing from their city utility bill.

"No one is doing that anywhere," he said. "But as renewable energy purchases increase, it becomes an economic development issue."

At at glance

City, Annual green power usage in Kwh, Percent of total power

1. Corvallis; 100,418,950; 13 percent

2. Bellingham, Wash.; 81,000,000; 11 percent

3. Santa Clara, Calif.; 57,000,000; 2 percent

4. Beaverton; 51,936,000; 3 percent

5. Bend; 45,959,000; 6 percent

6. Palo Alto, Calif.; 38,581,000; 4 percent

7. Gresham; 37,716,000; 5 percent

8. Boulder, Colo.; 36,587,000; 3 percent

9. Salem; 33,397,000; 2 percent

10. River Falls, Wis.; 18,030,000; 15 percent

Matt Neznanski can be reached at 758-9528 or matt.neznanski@lee.net.

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