By Ken Stern 

Solarize Skagit signs up 129 to consider solar panels around La Conner

 

This corrects the July 19 story headlined: “Solarize Skagit will power 129 homes.” The headline is incorrect. As the cooperative’s Vice President Mary Wohleb states in her letter below this article: “A 'sign up’ means the homeowner filled out an on-line form. … A sign up is not a commitment to go solar.”

Wohleb also clarifies she did not provide information about the 30% federal tax or that it is applied to the $2.81/wt negotiated rate, in paragraph four. Her letter will be on page 2 of the July 19 edition.

This is the complete story, as corrected:

The Skagit Valley Clean Energy Cooperative-op reached its July Fourth goal with a bang, signing up 129 households in the county for solar electrical systems by that deadline. The La Conner-based start-up created Solarize Skagit at the start of the year, partnering with Olympia Community Solar to offer a group purchasing program to help Skagitonians save money on advanced energy systems.

Forty-three households in the La Conner school district are interested in the discounted group rate. Countywide, 36 homes in Mount Vernon; and Anacortes, 21; Sedro Wooley, 10; Bow, 7; Burlington 5 and Bellingham, 1 committed to estimates for installations. In Thurston County, with almost 300,000 people, 129 households signed up in 2022. This year 221 sign-ups were made in the Thurston County effort.

The first installation was actually in March, in La Conner, with two others in the county. Mary Wohleb, the co-op’s board vice president, estimated all projects will be finished the end of the year, if the households commit. Over 25%, 35 households, joined the last 30 days of the campaign. Each still needs a home evaluation. Each has to sign a contract with an installer.

The families gained a negotiated rate of $2.81 per watt, Wohleb said, or about $1.97 after the 30% federal tax credit. That compares to the $3 to $5 per watt for fully installed solar system before incentives, according to Solar.com.

Olympia Community Solar is also a nonprofit. It promotes helping communities save money on solar power by leveraging their cumulative purchasing power for better prices. Solar equipment is purchased in bulk well-qualified installers are contracted to make the process of installing solar power simple, affordable and secure.

The Clean Energy Co-op will repeat the campaign next year. Homeowners can reach out to solar installers, but there is no guaranteed reduced price.

Wohleb notes that many who signed up for an estimate have not yet committed to an installation.

The co-op is also encouraging participation in a Community Energy Challenge for reducing home energy consumption starting with a home energy audit. Information: sustainableconnections.org/community-energy-challenge/

Information from the co-op: skagitvce.coop.

This corrects the July 12 printed edition. Corrections are:

1. Headline: Solarize Skagit signs up 129 for solar panels around La Conner. Not 129 homes powered by solar.

2. Forty-three households in the La Conner school district have not committed but are interested in the discounted group rate. Countywide the municipal totals are for forms signed expressing interest in estimates for installations.

3. Each household has to sign a contract with an installer.

Mary Wohleb, vice president of the co-op, will have her letter, below, printed in the July 19 edition:

Dear Editor and La Conner Weekly News Readers,

Thank you for your continued support of Skagit County Clean Energy Cooperative. I am compelled to correct some of last week’s front page article, “Solarize Skagit to power 129 homes.” Solarize Skagit had 129 homeowners sign up for the program. A “sign up” means the homeowner filled out an on-line form. Once “signed up” the homeowner receives a site visit from one of the three pre-vetted installers and if their home is conducive for solar the homeowner receives a cost estimate. At that point they make a decision to purchase solar or not. Then installation is scheduled and completed. A sign up is not a commitment to go solar.

Regarding Question #4, Can people sign up late/continue to sign up? How?

My written response was “No. The sign up ends July 4. We have to honor the agreement made with the installer to offer a time-limited offer for the negotiated lower price solar at $2.81/wt. But once signed up participants work with the installers on a schedule.” I never said “or about $3.65 before that 30% federal tax credit.” If I had made such a calculation it would have been $2.81/watt less the tax credit. Not more.

Although the Solarize Skagit program is winding down for this year we are still very much in the process of moving people through the Solarize program and people will be popping up and closing deals all through the rest of July and likely some into August. We are excited to start up back again in 2024 building on this year's efforts.

 

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