Solarizing Stanwood and Camano

By Sarah Arney

Time is running out for Stanwood and Camano Island residents to get a deal on solar power.

May 25 is the last day to register at for participation in the communitydriven Solarize Stanwood/Camano program.

As of last Tuesday, more than 165 people had registered, 36 had site assessments and bids in hand, 26 had site assessments scheduled and six people had signed contracts, according to Joan Schrammeck, chair of the outreach committee for Solarize Stanwood/ Camano.

“Solarize Stanwood/Camano has been met with much enthusiasm in the local communities,” Schrammeck said. More than 90 people attended a March workshop on Camano and in Stanwood 75 people attended the April workshop, where they met the installers, Fire Mountain Solar, of Mount Vernon, and Whidbey Sun and Wind.

“Many people are quite surprised to see how quickly the incentives make it possible to recoup the cost of a solar system,” Schrammeck said. “And with the Snohomish County PUD low-interest loan, the upfront cost can be significantly reduced.”

Six local homeowners with solar hosted a self-guided tour in April so that potential buyers could see the solar installations at work.

The first person to sign a contract in this Solarize Stanwood/ Camano project was Roland Clark who had recently purchased a bank-owned property on Old Homestead Lane, near the state parks. Clark, who has enjoyed using a family cabin on Camano since 1963, was inspired by his neighbor’s system.

“The neighbor across the street has solar, and my new house has a south-facing garage, so I thought it might work for solar,” he said.

Clark likes the idea of solar power because it’s “green.”

“It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling,” he said. “And the negative power bills are nice, too.”

The process, he said, was “pretty slick.”

“All you have to do is sign your name and send money,” said Clark. “I didn’t need the financing.” He expects the four or five day installation process to begin sometime this week.

Installations will continue through the summer.

For those residents who have been thinking about it but haven’t taken action, the third of four free public workshops is this Saturday, May 5, 11 a m., at the Stanwood High School Performing Arts Center, presented by the community group, which was organized solely for this project late last year, with leadership from PUD, and SEED Northwest.

The workshop on Saturday will provide information about how solar power works in northwest Washington and a description of the incentives that add up to about 50 percent discount off the regular price of a solar system installation.

While all systems vary according to the situation, the cost is estimated at about $21,000, for 4 kilowatts, and nothing extra added, using Solar World Panels made in Oregon, or up to $27,000 to $30,000 for a system with components made in Washington.

“That’s before you subtract the discounts and incentives,” Schrammeck said.

The biggest benefit, she said, is the 30 percent federal tax credit, and there’s also a cash rebate from PUD, no sales tax, and then there are incentives based on the amount of electricity produced.

PUD staff will explain it all at Saturday’s workshop and the two installation companies will describe the options and explain the the return on investment for property owners.

Following the 90-minute presentation, participants will take a field trip outdoors to see the polemounted solar panels that were funded by Sno- PUD’s Planet Power Program to generate electricity for the school’s environmental science program.

Attendance at the workshop puts participants on the fast track to a free site assessment, Schrammeck said.

Those who attended past workshops are welcome to attend again this Saturday to ask more questions of the installers and to see the school’s panels. The final workshop will be on June 7 at Vista Madrona Fire Station.

“The installers are doing a great job of following up, offering to answer questions and scheduling site assessments,” said Schrammeck, who has signed a contract for solar panels on the roof of her garage. “I am very excited that our home will soon produce clean green electricity, strengthening the grid from within.”

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Appeared in Stanwood/Camano News on May 1, 2012.

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