Solar Savvy Wins Oregon City National Notice

Well, hello, Sunshine! Beaverton, Ore., is certainly happy to see the sun, and thanks to its Solar Beaverton program, this Portland-area city is making the most of it. Since the program’s inception in 2009, the city has seen over 200 solar system installations, and recently it won recognition from the National League, which highlighted six cities with innovative green programs at its City Showcase exhibition.

This municipal community program in the Oregon city has focused its efforts on simplifying the process of installing solar panels, producing renewable energy within the community, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, helping residents take advantage of state and federal financial incentives, and expediting the solar permitting processes.

SolarBeaverton Demonstration Gazebo

image via city of Beaverton

The results in the first two years of the program include 258 total solar installations in the Beaverton area (with a total of 975 homeowners/businesses expressing interest) and the prevention of approximately 961,050 pounds of CO2 pollution per year, the equivalent of planting 77.4 acres of trees. Another key accomplishment: the creation of 15 local, living-wage jobs in support of Beaverton’s solar economy.

The program also managed to increase solar-panel permitting by 2,500 percent in the city of Beaverton, and establish a public gazebo that demonstrates solar power (pictured above). This gazebo, at the site of the Beaverton Farmers Market, doubles as a charging station for electric vehicles. Plans for the city include a solar array at the Beaverton City Library and the possibility of installations at other public facilities as well.

“Solar Beaverton was an ambitious idea that has surpassed all of our expectations,” said Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, in a statement. “We are proud of the accomplishments of the program, as well as the environmental, economic and social benefits it has brought to the Beaverton community.”

Other cities winning recognition from the National League of Cities included Baltimore; Rochester, Minn.; Kansas City; Portland, Ore.; and Riverside, Calif.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.