By Matt Stanley/Astoria Co+op General Manager
We’re getting solar! The project got delayed due to costs and the pandemic but it’s back on track, with the install of solar posts on the roof. The panels might not go up until spring, but this is an important step toward better environmental and financial sustainability!
This week, a crew has been installing the solar posts that will connect the panel mounting hardware to the structural elements of the building so the panels can withstand high winds.
We were on a path to opening the new store with functional solar, but construction expenses with the general build-out forced us hold off on installing panels. Fortunately though, during construction, we were able to prep the building to be solar-ready, structurally and electrically. Responding to the pandemic didn’t make things easier, and the project had to be moved to the back burner until now.
Timing is critical, as we have two outstanding grants, one from USDA and one from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program that we do not want to lose. A collaboration with the solar company Elemental Energy is allowing us to complete the project financially; a great long-term investment for the co-op.
The system will be approximately 60 kW, resulting in an approximate savings of $500 monthly in the co-op’s electrical bills. This represents about a third of our total energy usage. As energy costs increase, the savings over the life of the project will be significant. One estimate shows the co-op will save nearly $1 million in electrical expenses over 25 years! I will be able to share more specifics as the project progresses.
The co-op’s rooftop solar project reflects our cooperative model’s emphasis on environmental stewardship and we will be proud to show that a coastal business can successfully take advantage of solar energy. Stay tuned for more information and some neat drone photography of our panel installation!