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Electricians are sparking a surge in solar

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar on April 23rd, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintLeavenworth Electric’s venture into the solar business three years ago is largely responsible for the growth in solar installations in Chelan County.

Electrician Mark Karnofski proposed diversifying with solar and owner Mike McComas quickly agreed. “Mark had such a heart for it,” McComas said, that he was easily convinced.

Leavenworth Electric became an installer and distributor for Silicon Energy, the Marysville firm that gathers the components to manufacture the solar modules that now grace most of the newer installations in the county. Because Silicon Energy is located in Washington state, producers who use their panels are eligible for the largest state incentive available to individuals, 54 cents per kilowatt hour.

Photo of Mark Karnofski, left, and Mike McComas

Mark Karnofski, left, and Mike McComas have set up Washington-made solar modules and inverters at about a dozen homes in Chelan County.

 Payments from Chelan PUD’s Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) program are “the cherry on top of the cake” for these producers, Karnofski said. Leavenworth Electric has completed about a dozen installations in Wenatchee, Manson, Cashmere and Leavenworth and has been tapped as the contractor for the proposed 14-kilowatt, 72-panel community solar project at Icicle River Middle School. 

The average size of Leavenworth Electric’s installations is 24 panels. “We can design a system to fit your budget,” McComas said. Installed cost is $7 to $8 per watt. So a 24-panel configuration that generates 4800 watts would cost $33,600 to $38,400. 

Spendy, but investors expect to recoup their costs and more due to the state and SNAP programs, McComas said.

The state’s Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program is set to expire in 2020 but could be extended by the Legislature. The SNAP program has no expiration date. 

Silicon Energy panels come with a 30-year warranty. Leavenworth Electric contracts with Mark Pulse Construction to build the handsome structures that hold the panels, including artistic A-frames and deck coverings that meld form with function.

Sixty-two sites are producing solar, wind and small-hydro power under the SNAP program. For a summary of activity in 2014, see our SNAP Annual Report.

Solar investment explained at Leavenworth

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar on April 18th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintAbout a dozen interested Leavenworth residents attended a public meeting Thursday night to learn about investing in a community solar project for Icicle River Middle School.

Faith Lutheran Church of Leavenworth has organized the effort and is the project administrator. The Cascade School Board is making the middle school available to host from 72 to 96 solar panels; the final number depends on funds raised.

Applications to participate are open to individuals who are customers of Chelan County PUD and meet other criteria, including having a relationship with either  the church or the school district. That can be translated rather loosely, said Ellen Lamiman, the consultant who is coordinating project details. For example, attending a school concert would be considered a “relationship.”

The application to participate must be mailed to the project coordinators. The application puts potential investors in a queue for consideration, based on postmark date. They’ll be contacted and asked to write their checks within a few days, Lamiman said. Once a goal of $90,000 is reached, the investment opportunity will be closed.

Payments of $1.08 per kilowatt hour generated are available to investors through the state’s Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program. The program is designed to spur manufacturing of solar modules and inverters  in Washington and to help make renewable energy systems affordable to the public. The payments come from state utility taxes — in this case, those collected by Chelan PUD — and must be made to a local entity.

The proposed 14-kilowatt solar installation would be the first community solar farm in Chelan County to take advantage of the state program, which expires in 2020 . At that time, the Cascade School District would assume ownership of the installation. 

Data monitors tracking generation from the solar panels would be available on the Internet, providing math and science opportunities for students at the middle school or other schools.

Organizers have established a website which includes information for investors. Organizers can be contacted at solarleavenworth@gmail.com.

Sprucing up this spring? Think rebates

Posted in Appliances, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting, Recycling on April 16th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintWindows, doors, ductless heat pumps, water heaters, appliances… Don’t buy any of these this spring until you’ve checked out our rebates.

Chelan County PUD has expanded its energy-efficiency programs and now has rebates on:

  • Super-efficient windows (U factor of .22 or lower; usually triple-pane) – $8 per square foot
  • Insulated exterior doors – $40
  • Energy-efficient manufactured homes – $850 (call 509- 661-8008 for info)

    Photo of ad featuring a chicken crossing the road.

    Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Chelan PUD’s energy-saving rebates!

Rebates on ENERGY STAR appliances continue in these amounts:

And don’t forget:

Check out the details for each program using the links above. Or call us at (509) 661-8008.

Community solar project would be a first

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar on April 15th, 2014 by Susan – 1 Comment

PrintPublic meeting for investors set for Thursday in Leavenworth

You can get in on the ground floor of an investment that will rest on the roof of Icicle River Middle School in Leavenworth.

Photo of Icicle River Middle School

Icicle River Middle School may become home to Chelan County’s first community solar project. (Photo from school website)

Investors are being sought to help build a 14-kilowatt community solar installation on the middle school. A public meeting to explain the project will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at the Chelan County PUD office in Leavenworth, 222 Chumstick Highway. If successful, the project would be the first community solar farm in Chelan County to take advantage of the state’s Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program.

Payments of $1.08 per kilowatt hour are available for community projects that use solar modules and inverters manufactured in Washington. The payments come from utility taxes and must be made to a local entity. Faith Lutheran Church of Leavenworth has stepped up to be the project administrator and would disburse funds to individual investors. The Cascade School Board is making the  middle school available to host from 72 to 96 solar panels.

The final number of solar panels will depend on the amount of money raised. Organizers have a goal of about $100,000 and would like to have the project up and running by mid-summer.

When the state program expires in 2020, the school district would take over ownership of the solar modules.

Data monitors tracking generation from the solar installation would be available on the Internet, providing math and science opportunities for students at the middle school or other schools.

Organizers have established a website here. They can be contacted at solarleavenworth@gmail.com.

April brings Earth Day celebrations

Posted in Climate, Energy conservation, Environment, Recycling, Renewable energy, Sustainability, Water conservation on April 4th, 2014 by Susan – Be the first to comment

PrintApril is the month for celebrating the earth and our continued stewardship of its resources. Earth Day fairs in Chelan and Leavenworth offer opportunities for everyone, while Entiat’s celebration focuses on its schoolchildren.

Here’s a rundown of the festivities:

Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Riverwalk Park, Chelan: Chelan is celebrating its 25th anniversary of hosting its Earth Day Fair. Find displays about composting, green building, recycling, renewable energy, land conservation, energy conservation, electric vehicles and emergency preparedness. There’s plenty to do and see, including a garden center, flea market, arts and crafts for kids, food booths, music and entertainment. The event is sponsored by the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, KOZI Radio and Chelan County PUD.

Poster of Leavenworth Earth Day FairSunday, April 27, noon to 4 p.m., Lions Club Park, Leavenworth: The Wenatchee River Institute is sponsoring Leavenworth’s sixth annual Earth Day Fair.  The fair will feature live music, prepared food, a Farmers Market Showcase, health information, displays, hands-on activities and activities for the whole family. Sponsors are Stevens Pass, KOHO Radio, Link Transit and Chelan County PUD. If it rains, the fair will take place at Osborn Elementary School, 225 Central Avenue, Leavenworth. Phone (509) 548-6881 for more fair information.

On Tuesday, April 15,  Entiat Elementary School students will be treated to displays and activities focusing on conservation and sustainability. The 11th annual event is sponsored by the Entiat Valley Community Services group. Chelan PUD will be among the presenters. Contact May Segle for information at (509) 784-7117 or evcsfb@nwi.net.