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Solar investment explained at public meeting

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.

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.

Big hopes for solar on little Kauai

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar on December 9th, 2013 by Susan – 1 Comment
Photo of solar on Wahooo Restaurant in Kauai

The Wahooo Restaurant in Kapa’a puts its solar face forward along Kauai’s main highway.

Print

The little island of Kauaʻi is going big with solar, hoping to provide half of residents’ power from renewable sources by 2023.

My husband and I just returned from our fifth visit to the island since 2006. We were surprised on our first trip to see so little solar, and impressed on this visit to see so much. Installations range from half a dozen panels on the roofs of homes to utility-scale arrays at Port Allen, where the island’s main source of energy – oil – is transported for electrical generation.

A 6-megawatt solar farm, the largest solar facility in Hawaiʻi, went online there a year ago. According to the Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative’s website, it supplies almost 10 percent of daytime electrical load and annually produces about 3 percent of the electricity used on Kaua‘i.

Residential customers in Kauaʻi pay 41 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, which still comes mostly from burning fossil fuel. Chelan PUD customers pay 3 cents per kilowatt hour for their clean, renewable hydropower.

Along with hundreds of customer-sited systems, the utility added 282 watts of solar per customer to its grid in 2012. That amounts to about one solar panel installed for each one of the utility’s 28,000 residential customers.

Photo of solar on Lihue home.

Solar modules on a newer home in Lihue, Kauai’s largest city.

Two more utility-scale solar projects are planned. Both will be owned and operated by the utility and will use state-of-the-art battery energy storage systems. By 2015, half of Kauaʻi’s daytime energy needs will be met by solar PV, the highest percentage of solar PV on an electrical grid of any utility in the U.S.

The utility also offers its customers a $1,000 rebate on the purchase of solar hot water heaters.

For its leadership in solar power, the Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative was honored by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) as one of the nation’s Top 10 utilities for delivery of solar energy to its customers. Earlier this year,  SEPA named the co-op’s CEO its CEO of the year.

Eight small hydro projects – a legacy of sugar cane operations – still contribute to the island’s power resources. New projects are being considered but seem unlikely due to cultural and environmental issues.

My husband and I have kayaked two of the rivers being considered for dam sites, blissfully unaware of any potential for producing power. But I was on vacation, right? And who thinks about work in paradise?

 

Photo of solar on roof of Lihue Airport building.

Welcome to Kauai: Solar at the Lihue Airport.

 

Solar, wind producers see record returns

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar, Uncategorized on September 12th, 2013 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Thirty-five solar and wind producers participating in Chelan County PUD’s Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) program have received checks from the PUD totaling nearly $42,000, a record.

Photo of Juan and Susan Mendoza

Juan and Susan Mendoza placed 12 solar panels on their home in Manson this past year.

The funds are the second payment producers receive each year and are made available through the state Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive program. The state program allows utilities to pay solar and wind power producers up to $5,000 per year for their generation. Two Chelan County producers came close to reaching that cap this year. (The state’s year runs from July 1 to June 30.)

The goal of the state program is to encourage the development of small-scale renewable energy production and solar equipment manufacturing in Washington. Producers who use equipment made in Washington are paid at a higher rate.

The payment rates are:

  • Solar generation using solar modules and inverters manufactured in Washington: $0.54 per kWh
  • Solar generation in which only the photovoltaic modules are made in Washington: $0.36 per kWh
  • Solar generation in which only the inverter is made in Washington: $0.18/kWh
  • Solar generation with modules and inverters manufactured outside Washington: $0.15 per kWh
  • Wind generation equipped with blades made in Washington: $0.15 per kWh
  • All other electricity produced by wind: $0.12 per kWh

Chelan PUD makes the payments, and earns a tax credit equal to the cost of those payments.  The incentives program began in 2005-06 and runs through June 2020.

SNAP began in 2001. The SNAP program relies on voluntary customer contributions to pay producers for their power. Those payments are made on or around Earth Day, April 22, of each year. SNAP contributions have resulted in an average payment of 21 cents per kilowatt hour over the last eight years. In 2012-13, SNAP producers shared $24,675 in customer contributions.

You can become a SNAP producer, support green power by becoming a SNAP supporter, or learn more about SNAP power in Chelan County

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Free flashlight for supporting SNAP

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar on July 30th, 2013 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Photo of Energizer solar-powered LED flashlightSign up for to support SNAP — Chelan PUD’s solar and wind power program – and get a free solar-powered LED flashlight. 

Customers who begin contributing to SNAP (Sustainable Natural Alternative Power) during August can receive the free Energizer flashlight:

• Great for camping
• Charges in the sun or with hand crank
• Solar panel charges even in low light
• Lifetime LEDs and rechargeable NiMH battery pack that never need replacing
• Spring carabiner clip for attaching to backpacks or belts

SNAP connects customers who want to produce solar and wind power with other local customers who want to support it. Fifty-eight schools, non-profit agencies and private homeowners are producing power for SNAP.

Under the program, customers voluntarily pay a little extra on their utility bills. These customer donations are collected by the PUD and distributed once a year to our SNAP producers generating solar and wind power. Renewable energy generated by SNAP producers goes into the PUD’s electrical grid and is distributed to PUD customers.

Customers must commit to a minimum contribution of $2.50 a month for at least six months. Customers who already support SNAP can receive a flashlight if they agree to increase contributions by at least $2.50 a month.

The offer is good while supplies list. Sign up online or visit a Chelan PUD office to get your flashlight right away.