Solarization of Stanwood and Camano makes progress

The Solarize Stanwood/ Camano project is already thriving with lots of energy from local residents. There’s a steering committee, an outreach committee, and a mentoring committee.

One of the mentors, Kim Rochat doesn’t need a discount on solar because he got his system installed a year ago with a PUD rebate.

But he cares enough about the idea of using solar power to help others.

Rochat moved to Camano Island from Texas three years ago. His house faces Whidbey Island to the west, and his carport slopes north and south, an ideal situation for solar.

Currently only one tree, a madrone, causes shade on a few of the eastern most panels out of 24 panels.

He chose a system where each panel is separate so that the shaded area would have less impact on the total output.

He said his system, considering all the rebates and incentives, has already recovered 46 percent of the cost. Rebates and incentives include both federal taxes and state rebates for using systems made in Washington.

Solarize Stanwood/Camano is a time-limited initiative designed to help local residents go solar in a collaborative effort among Snohomish County PUD, Northwest SEED (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development), and a team of local volunteers.

An important step for the project was the recent selection of an installer. After releasing a call for bids in December, the steering committee reviewed applicants and selected two companies, Whidbey Sun & Wind and Fire Mountain Solar, as authorized installers for the initiative. The two companies submitted a joint proposal to work together to meet the solar installation requirements of the project.

“We are confident that Whidbey Sun & Wind and Fire Mountain Solar will do a great job and we are really looking forward to working with them to bring solar to our community,” said Joan Schrammeck, one of the community volunteers.

The public is invited to attend any of four workshops where they can meet the installers and learn about the federal, state and PUD incentives that significantly reduce the price of going solar. Participants who attend one of these 90-minute workshops will qualify for the local group discount.

The workshops start at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7 at Camano Center, 606 Arrowhead Road; Tuesday, April 10 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 27201 99th Ave. NW, in Stanwood, and Thursday, June 7 at Vista Madrona Fire Station, 273 N. West Camano Drive, Camano Island, with one Saturday workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 5 at Stanwood High School.

Workshop participants will be put on the fast track to a free site assessment. The program is for building owners in the 98292 and 98282 zip code areas (i.e. Stanwood, Warm Beach and Camano Island.)

Learn more at or call Schrammeck at 360-387-9589.

Mentor Rochat reminds residents that the production incentive with tax rebates ends in eight years and four months. He suggests that if the Solarize installers determine that the situation is not ideal for a solar system, homeowners might consider getting a second opinion — although that would not be covered by the package deal offered in this program. Some issues that will be considered by the installers are the orientation of the house and the roof, shade caused by trees or other buildings, or other placement constraints.

The time-limited initiative means that this offer is for this year only. If you miss all four workshops, you’re probably out of luck.

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Appeared in Stanwood/Camano News on February 28, 2012.

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