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Passive-design home takes shape at Lake Chelan

Posted in Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Sustainability on August 15th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Lightly logoSeattle architect Brett Holverstott has updated his blog with photos showing the progress of the passive design house being built on Lake Chelan.

Mike Schramm of Green Gables Construction

Builder Mike Schramm takes a break during construction of the passive-design home on Lake Chelan.

The photos document some of the extra measures being taken to tightly seal the home using extra caulking, tape and dense-pack cellulose insulation. The south-facing home on the lake’s north shore will incorporate super-insulated floors, walls, and roof; air-tight enclosure; high performance windows primarily oriented to the south; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) which uses the outgoing air to precondition the incoming air. The home will not need a furnace. A passive home can consume 85 percent less heating/cooling energy than a typical home.

Brothers Mike and Mark Schramm of Green Gables Construction, Chelan, are the builders. The home is owned by Rick and Jacque Hyler of Renton, who will move to it permanently after retirement.

View updates on Holverstott’s blog from July 24 and July 4. Read the original story about Holverstott and the passive design home here.

Sun power on the snowy mountain

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar, Sustainability on August 14th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Lightly logoStevens Pass Mountain Resort is producing power for Chelan PUD’s solar program

When you think of skiing or snowboarding you think snow, right? But at Stevens Pass Mountain Resort they’re thinking sun. As in solar, and solar power.

The resort installed a small solar system at the top of its Skyline Chairlift that should generate electricity most of the year, said John Meriwether, manager of Environmental Sustainability.

Photo of solar system at Stevens pass Moutain Resort

Stevens Pass Mountain Resort has added a solar system along the Skyline Chairlift and expects to churn out sun power up to 10 months of the year.

“In summertime we’re pretty high and exposed to the sun, really for eight, nine, 10 months out of the year,” he said. The eight-panel, 1.9-watt system is on a fixed pole and won’t track with the sun, which in hindsight might have been a better option. “Something I learned (recently) is that we probably should have put it on something that tilted, because January-February-March it’s in the shade. If it tilted toward snow we could possibly have gotten some reflective light.”

The installation was delayed by a year when the Tumwater, Wash. engineering firm hired for the project declared bankruptcy. A Seattle contractor was called in to take over, and the installation was connected to Chelan PUD’s grid on July 10. The resort is now part of the PUD’s customer-based SNAP program.

A $5,000 grant from the National Ski Area Association helped Stevens Pass pay for the project. More solar is planned. “Chairlifts have lift stations that need maintenance and upgrading, and once they come around in our maintenance rotation, we’ll plug a solar component into that,” Meriwether said. Prime south-facing locations include the Double Diamond chairlift and the spot where the  Jupiter and Tyemill lifts come together.

Stevens Pass has won several regional and national environmental honors, including the National Ski Area Association’s Golden Eagle Award for environmental excellence in 2012. The resort has an aggressive sustainability program, Meriwether said, that takes in recycling, composting and energy and water conservation. A facilities audit conducted a few years ago resulted in a road map for the resort to make efficiency improvements “and we’ve been clicking away at those projects,” he said. Upgrades made at its three lodges include insulating doors, adding occupancy sensors for lighting, sealing elevator shafts against heat loss and installing low-flow toilets.

Resort staff also helped bring an electric vehicle charging station to Stevens Pass. A former staff member on that project, Ross Freeman, is now the sustainability manager for the city of Mercer Island, where a “solarize” campaign is under way with Northwest SEED.

Thanks for saving energy!

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on August 6th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Lightly logoConservation efforts pay off for all customers

Hats off to Chelan County PUD customers, who helped the PUD reach half of a two-year conservation goal in just six months.

Andrew Grassell, Energy Development and Conservation manager, said there has been great response by customers to the rebates offered by Chelan PUD on energy efficient appliances, heat pumps, windows, insulation and LED lighting.

Photo of Kent and Annie Chalmers

Kent and Annie Chalmers of Cashmere are enjoying the benefits of adding insulation through Chelan PUD’s rebate program.

Under the state’s Energy Independence Act, the two-year target for the PUD is 2.08 average megawatts (aMW). By the end of June, the PUD had achieved 1.18 aMW – well above the 1.08 aMW target for all of 2014. The savings so far this year are enough to power about 400 Chelan County homes.

The Conservation group takes the energy-saving targets as a minimum, Grassell said, and will continue to offer programs that appeal to customers. Rebates on refrigerators, clothes washers and LED retrofit kits, along with window and insulation incentives, are the most popular.

Industrial customers also are actively participating, installing lighting, cold storage and other energy-saving upgrades with help from the PUD.

Grassell noted that savings extend beyond program participants. All customers benefit because energy that is saved is sold on the wholesale market, helping to support low, stable electric rates. The local economy is supported, too, through the purchase of products and services in our communities.


Hybrid water heater discounts available

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation on August 6th, 2014 by Susan – 2 Comments

PrintGE is offering discounts on its GeoSpring 50-gallon heat pump water heater which, combined with Chelan PUD’s rebate, makes the cost of these units comparable to traditional storage water heaters.

A $400 markdown at the store combined with the PUD’s $300 rebate drops the price by $700, making the final cost around $500. Promotions at individual stores may drop the price even lower. Lowes, for example, has a discount running through Sept. 7 that drops the final cost to around $299.

HPWH2Participating stores are Lowes, Sears, Ferguson and some independent retailers. The promotion runs through Dec. 3. For promotion details, visit

Heat pump water heaters can be installed by a homeowner. Use this tip sheet for do-it-yourself installation. Or find a contractor here.

Before you buy, review these requirements:

• Type – Tier 1 units like the GeoSpring are well suited for unconditioned spaces, such as garages. Tier 2 units are well suited to colder climates and can be ducted to move cool air generated by the unit to the outside, allowing for installation in conditioned and unconditioned spaces.

• Space – Tier 1 units like the GeoSpring require at least 1,000 cubic feet of air flow around them. This is the equivalent of 10′x10′x10′ of space.

• Sound – Heat pump water heaters generate sound similar to an electric fan. If your existing hot water heater is silent, this may be bothersome at first.

• Cold air – While in operation, heat pump water heaters release cool, dry air into the surrounding space.

• Size/height – Heat pump water heaters are slightly larger than standard electric water heaters.

Learn more about heat pump water heaters at  Remember to apply for Chelan PUD’s rebate.

It’s a ‘fish mob’ at Rocky Reach

Posted in Fish tales on July 14th, 2014 by Brenna Visser – Be the first to comment

2012 fish runWhen I hear words like “ladder” or “bypass,” I think of something that might be a bit of a challenge, or even something that could be dangerous. But for salmon, those are welcomed words. You can see this for yourself as more than 300,000 of them are happily and safely swimming past Rocky Reach Visitor Center viewing windows this summer.

Around 10,000 to 20,000 sockeye and 1,000 to 2,000 Chinook are making their way upstream every day the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates. As Thad Mosey, a fish biologist here at the PUD said, they are “…the biggest summer Chinook I’ve ever seen.” See fish counts at Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams

“…the biggest summer Chinook I’ve ever seen.” Thad Mosey, Chelan PUD fish biologist

That’s a lot of big fish. Good thing there are five fish viewing windows at the visitor center to see them. But, how do all these salmon get from the river to viewing windows?

It is a lot less daunting than it may seem. What you see at Rocky Reach Visitor Center is actually the west side of the fish ladder. The ladder consists of a series of 100 pools of falling water, each 1 foot above the other. Adult fish heading upstream are attracted to the ladder by water flow at fish ladder entrances located at the base of the spillway, the center dam and along the downstream side of the powerhouse.

Even after 100 steps, studies have shown that there is no delay to the return trip of adult salmon to spawning grounds. Apparently 100 steps in the fish world isn’t as big of a deal as it is for the rest of us.

So this summer when you see your sockeye and Chinook salmon friends at Rocky Reach Visitor Center, you can appreciate what it took for them to meet you eye to eye through the viewing glass.

Expand your Rocky Reach Visitor Center experience by touring the powerhouse and talking with employees on July 26 as a way to “Rediscover Your PUD.”  Call (509) 663-7522 to reserve your spot on a hardhat tour of Rocky Reach. There will more “inside the dam” tours at Rock Island and Lake Chelan dams later in the summer and fall this year.