Now’s a good time to Go Solar on Bainbridge | Guest Column | Oct. 28
October 27, 2011 · Updated 4:02 PM
It’s October, and the long rainy season is just beginning. That’s why it’s the perfect time to go solar.
Counterintuitive as it sounds, there’s no better time to reign in your electric bill and put some sunshine in your wallet.
Thanks to a state law championed by former State Sen. Phil Rockefeller and a local consortium headed by a Bainbridge Island non-profit – along with solar installers, manufacturers and lenders – homeowners and businesses can now receive the same savings on solar programs previously reserved for large customers. And if your roof is in the shade, the community solar project at City Hall may be just for you.
An initiative known as Go Solar Bainbridge is at the forefront of the Go Solar Washington campaign. It’s created to nearly double our community’s use of solar energy by offering discounted, high-efficiency solar energy systems through the power of bulk purchasing.
Go Solar Bainbridge is led by Community Energy Solutions, a not-for-profit that has served the island since 2008.
It has selected solar installer Sunergy Systems based on competitive pricing and professional qualifications, and two financial institutions with deep roots in the Northwest – Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union and Umpqua Bank.
They are among a short list of financial firms in the state willing and ready to make affordable solar energy loans.
If you’re wondering how solar energy works in a place that is gray and overcast for much of the year, you’d be surprised to learn that our region is nearly as solar friendly as sunny Sacramento, Calif. I recently attended one of the Go Solar Bainbridge workshops and learned an interesting fact.
Without getting into too much technical speak, suffice it to say that the annual number of kilowatt hours per kilowatt produced from a typical photovoltaic installation on Bainbridge Island and Puget Sound is 1,100 kilowatt hours compared with Sacramento’s 1,265.
The reason for this phenomena is that we have a relatively attractive solar season in the Pacific Northest from May to September when the days are long and temperatures are mild.
These conditions are ideal for producing photovoltaic energy, according to the experts.
Locations such as Phoenix or Las Vegas have plenty of sun but too much heat, which makes these systems less efficient. Even in winter when it is overcast and cold on Bainbridge Island, solar energy systems are still producing clean electricity by capturing diffuse sun light.
Going solar in your home and business now makes sense because of falling prices for solar systems and some attractive Washington state incentives.
What’s more, Go Solar Bainbridge works with Itek Energy of Bellingham – producing high efficiency solar panels that help our local economy, and gives this campaign a unique “Made in Washington” stamp.
Here are a few more reasons why you should consider solar energy:
• Each installation receives a 30 percent federal tax credit;
• Purchase of Washington made solar modules and inverters could provide you with up to a $5,000 annual utility incentive;
• Accelerated appreciation for businesses; and security from rising electricity rates;
• State law that allows you to charge back excess electricity to your utility;
• Ability to increase your home resale value as resale statistics show “green” houses sell faster and for more money;
• Showcase your “environmental values” to neighbors/customers.
There are only about 40 solar programs (approximately 180 kilowatts) in place on Bainbridge Island. The goal of the campaign is to double the number of kilowatts through incentives, tiered pricing and bulk purchasing.
While this sounds ambitious, I believe islanders can step up to the challenge because this is a campaign that is good for you, good for the community and good for the environment.
Site assessment workshops
Free site assessments of your home or business on Bainbridge Island or to discover more about solar energy, visit www.GoSolarBainbridge.com
• Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Bainbridge Public Library
• Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 6:30-8 p.m. at OfficeXpats, second floor of the Pavilion.
Kevin Dwyer, former executive director of Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, is consulting with Community Energy Solutions.