Monday, November 22, 2010

The case for solar power in Washington

Solar power isn’t exactly the first thing you think of when you think of Western Washington, but the truth is that we receive 70% of the solar energy that the best locations in the United States receive and have a lot of potential to harness solar for our homes and businesses. Due to a policy called net metering, if a building produces more energy than it uses during a long summer day that energy can go into the local grid for other consumers to use. The building owner is credited for the extra energy they generated, which allows them to withdraw an equivalent amount of energy during a cloudy day at no extra charge. Since a large percentage of our solar potential is available in the summer, this policy allows buildings with their own photovoltaic panels to take advantage of the cost savings all year.

On November 17th, over 50 representatives from local businesses gathered at Sustainable Connections for a Solar Power Happy Hour. Attendees learned how the Community Energy Challenge can help them take advantage of current financial incentives and tax credits to buy down the cost of solar projects and representatives from three local installers offered a 5% discount to businesses that attended the event. Current incentives make solar more affordable than it’s ever been and some businesses are finding that adding solar panels offers a good return on their investment.

Everyone at the event enjoyed a selection of beers from North Fork Brewery, a local restaurant that is in the process of installing a solar array with the goal of providing 100% of the establishment’s power.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The CEC is Creating Jobs - We're Hiring!

Energy efficiency is creating and sustaining jobs in an industry that has been hit hard by the recession. The Community Energy Challenge is one of many programs across the country putting the building industry back to work and helping transition into a greener economy. To date, the CEC has been responsible for the creation of more than a dozen full time positions and is helping contractors to gain valuable skills in the field of energy efficiency, which will continue to serve them and our community long after the economy pulls out of this slump.

The Opportunity Council has recently put out a request for qualifications to local contractors interested in joining the team of contractors qualified to carry out work for residential participants in the CEC.
If you're a local contractor interested in helping Whatcom residents save money and energy, check out the link to learn how to apply.