The Astoria Co-op Grocery is securing funding for a solar array atop its new store in Mill Pond that could provide 57 kilowatts of renewable energy.
The project would make the co-op the first retailer in the region to add a solar array, said Matt Stanley, the store’s general manager.
“It really aligns with our sustainability mission as a co-op,” he said. “I think it can really differentiate us.”
The co-op’s project was announced as a recipient of Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Block renewable energy program. The program would provide $48,385, about 35 percent of the project cost, if the co-op can raise the rest of the funding and install the solar panels by the end of the year.
The co-op hopes to open its new store at 23rd Street and Marine Drive by Thanksgiving.
The co-op is also applying for a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund a large portion of the project and is hopeful the Pacific Power award will make its application stronger, Stanley said.
The Astoria Co-op was one of 13 solar projects across Oregon, Washington state and California to receive a total of $1.2 million from the Blue Sky program, through which customers voluntarily choose to get part or all of their energy from renewable sources, while supporting community-based renewable energy projects.
The most recent round of Blue Sky grants could bring more than 1,000 kilowatts of solar power online. The program in 2015 provided $169,000 for the installation of a 30-kilowatt turbine by the city of Astoria at the Bear Creek Dam, along with $25,000 for a feasibility study preceding the project.
“We are proud to facilitate this partnership between the funding recipients and our Blue Sky Block participants,” Berit Kling, Pacific Power program manager, said in a news release. “These solar projects raise the profile of renewable technologies in these communities and will have lasting benefits through reducing their carbon footprint.”
While the new Astoria Co-op is not pursuing sustainability certification, Stanley said, “We’re exploring as many green options as we can.”
The grocery is looking to incorporate sustainable products and building materials, along with edible components to its landscaping. While funding for the solar array is not guaranteed, the co-op can always pursue it in the future, Stanley said.