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The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition announced plans Friday for a five-year campaign to significantly increase the use of solar power in town.

The announcement came at the coalition’s annual meeting, held before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 125 people at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

“This is a major campaign,” said the coalition's facilitator, Annette Mills. “Corvallis is one of the most well-educated and progressive communities in the country, and we believe our community can lead the way in showing others what is possible. The time for talk is past. The future depends on us.”

More than 800 rooftops in Corvallis have solar arrays, which generate 4.2 megawatts of electricity. The coalition has a goal of adding 300 residential rooftops in 2016 along with 100 more on commercial buildings. The goal of the five-year program is to get to 10 megawatts and 2,000 rooftops.

The “Harvest Sunshine” campaign is a joint effort involving the the coalition, the Corvallis Environment Center and Environment Oregon. Organizers also have pitched the campaign to the city’s climate action plan task force and hope that the five-year goal becomes part of the group’s plan of action.

Environment Oregon is working with five cities in Oregon on solar activities, according to campaign organizer Bobbi Wilson, who said the group will provide organizational and technical assistance to “Harvest Sunshine.”

Solar installations in 2016 also will count toward the city’s effort to win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. Corvallis is one of the 50 U.S. towns to make it to the semifinals and local coordinator Sarah Spangler gave the equivalent of a halftime pep talk during Friday's meeting to support the city’s efforts.

“We’ve got 358 days left and we’re going to win,” Spangler said. “It’s not business as usual. If everyone in this room did something … or if the entire city did something … no one is on the bench in this game.”

Mills noted that there are significant tax credits available for homeowners who install solar and Corvallis-based Seeds for Sol offers assistance with financing. Residents also can invest $5,400 with Seeds for Sol and with a $1,500 annual tax credit over four years, claim $600 in profit.

“I had some credit union funds that were not getting much interest,” Mills said, “so I signed up. This is a great way to invest money in our future. It felt great to help a young family put solar on the roof.”

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In other action from the annual meeting:

• The audience heard reports from the coalition's 12 action teams.

• The coalition noted the four nominees for the “Good Steward of the Planet” award that will be presented at the June 15 Celebrate Corvallis event. The nominees are: Goodfoot Farm, the Heartland Humane Society Thrift Shop, Seeds for the Sol and the 5th Grade Bicycle Education program.

• The coalition announced that its annual Sustainability Fair and Town Hall will be from 5-9 p.m. on March 10 at the CH2M Alumni Center at Oregon State University. The keynote speakers will be James Reismiller and Cassandra Robertson of Abundant Solar, who will talk about Corvallis’ energy future.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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