Begun as a buying club in an era when agricultural sustainability was a fringe concept, First Alternative has been providing the Corvallis area with fresh, local and organic food since 1970. Today, more than a quarter of the city’s population are members of the co-op, and First Alternative’s two stores serve an average of 1761 customers per day.
From the beginning, First Alternative has been a leader in sustainability, installing several kilowatts of solar panels at both locations more than a decade ago. The food co-op is now partnering with the Oregon Clean Power Co-op, and the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, to put some 30-times more solar on its roofs. The project will install 74.5 kW of additional solar panels at First Alternative’s South store, and 29 kW at its North store. Together, the new solar arrays will provide some 113,453 kWh of clean electricity, offsetting about 12% of First Alternative’s electric usage and eliminating some 132 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to not driving a car more than 298,000 miles.