Your independent hometown award-winning newspaper

Skagit Valley Clean Energy Cooperative is making progress

The Skagit Valley Clean Energy Cooperative is a nonprofit cooperative. It was founded in La Conner about a year ago. Like any co-op (say, REI or the Skagit Valley Food Co-op), SVCEC helps people to find and take advantage of the best products in its area of expertise. SVCEC’s area of expertise is innovative energy technologies, e.g., renewable energy generation, energy conservation, energy monitoring and electric vehicles.

Our (I am a member) mission is to speed up use of these technologies in Skagit County. We work with governments, businesses, nonprofits and individuals. We help individuals and enterprise managers to find, evaluate and understand energy innovations. We expect to help members get low prices, or financing, for clean energy systems.

With limited resources, we have made significant progress. Starting with six volunteers and the vision of making the state of the art in energy more understandable and accessible, we have added members and launched two programs: Solarize Skagit and grant support. We are working on additional initiatives, such as a community solar program, which we hope to launch during the next year. Stay tuned!

In partnership with Olympia Community Solar, another nonprofit, we launched “Solarize Skagit,” which is underway now. Solarize makes it easier and less expensive for Skagit County residents to find qualified contractors, get bids for the rooftop installation of solar electric generation panels at 10-20% below normal pricing, take advantage of tax incentives that can pay nearly half the cost of a solar power installation and interconnect home solar with Puget Sound Energy. People can do all of this themselves, but going through the Solarize program makes it faster and less expensive. To sign up for a free, no-obligation evaluation, visit the SVCEC website, http://www.skagitvce.coop.

While publicizing the Solarize program, the Co-op has given presentations on solar energy to most of the local governments in Skagit County. We are hopeful that this will start a deeper relationship with these governments, via which the Co-op will be able to help local governments identify relevant technologies and apply for grants to install advanced energy technologies in Skagit County communities.

SVCEC members Mary Wohleb and Marylee Chamberlain are working with La Conner Schools and the La Conner Fire Department to help each apply for state grant funding for combined solar generation and battery storage systems. These systems would help each organization reduce energy costs and would help them to continue operating in the event of disruptions to the PSE system. If these applications are successful, the state will fund the engineering work required to determine the feasibility and total costs of the proposed systems. Follow-up funding from the state may be available next year to implement the projects.

During the rest of 2023, we anticipate that SVCEC will help more Skagit agencies find and apply for funding for still more energy systems, such as large-scale solar generation systems, electric buses and electric vehicle charging stations.

The La Conner Weekly News is supporting SVCEC’s mission by publishing this column. As regular readers know, dozens of new energy technologies are just now becoming economic and commercially available. Many opportunities exist for individuals and governments to reduce energy costs, improve resilience and add renewable generation capacity. If you want to learn more and even participate, join SVCEC.

 

Reader Comments(0)

 
 
Rendered 07/02/2024 16:14