Powell's

Hearing the news that Oregon darling Powell’s Books is getting a crapload of solar panels is akin to learning that Santa recycles or Mother Teresa loved to compost. Yep, Powell’s — especially the block-long location in downtown Portland with color-coded rooms — is that beloved.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

Construction has already started on a 100-kilowatt PV system topping the warehouse in northwest Portland. And in December, Powell’s will start using the sun’s juice from one of Oregon’s biggest solar panel installations, which will reportedly pay for itself in five years. And for all you Doubting Debbies, sure, the Northwest is drizzly — anybody see Twilight? — but the panels should provide 70 percent of the energy that panels in southern Arizona would.

But wait a sec — they want to redesign the main store? And dangle an 18-foot decorative cube over the entrance? Um, I’ve seen enough action movies with crashing chandeliers to be afraid. And this quote, from Powell’s CEO of strategic development, simply defies commentary: “We consider [the current] building as a vanilla wrapper and when you open it you find something delightful. [The new one] is a more exhibitionist building. As a business, we’re excited about it.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.