Community Energy Solutions Programs
Community Solar Energy Program
A great many people want to move away from fossil fuel dependence, and we believe that the best way to make that happen is to create renewable energy systems in communities - with the active participation of the community. The Sakai Solar Energy Project was our first project, where we put a photovolatic (solar electrical) system on the roof of Sakai Intermediate School. With no moving parts, noise, or pollution, the solar energy system will convert sunshine into electricity for decades to come. The system not only saves Sakai money, it generates revenue because the school is paid for all the electricity it produces. The savings and revenue are then reinvested by the school to enhance children's education and implement futher saving measures. The project was funded by a grant from PSE, and from donations from the community. Our next step of the Community Solar Program is to introduce a project on Bainbridge Island that has an investment component.
Renewables for All Program
We believe that renewable energy should be available to everyone, not just to those who can utilize the Federal tax credits. So we are partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County to install solar hot water (aka solar thermal) systems on Habitat homes. This will greatly reduce the electric bill to those can most appreciate a lower electric bill.
Community Energy Efficiency Program
The most valuable watt is the first one you don't need. People who undertake energy efficiency measures save energy, lower their carbon footprint and make their homes more comfortable. Their actions also provide jobs in the community. We are actively promoting energy efficiency through our energy audit fieldtrips. This is where people come and watch a live professional audit take place, and see the value of a blower door test, a thermal imaging test and a duct blaster test. They find out that audits are extremely valuable, as they pinpoint where homeowners should spend their money to achieve the greatest result.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In January 2009, the first phase of our Sakai Solar Energy Project went live. This was the first (and so far only) community-supported solar energy project on the Olympic Peninsula. In April 2009, we were instrumental in getting our utility, Puget Sound Energy, to begin talks with the community on alternatives to the building of a fourth substation on Bainbridge Island. We are leaders in a Community Energy Task Force that was created for that purpose. In August 2009, we arranged for a free energy audit for "Hope House" on Bainbridge Island, a home for developmentally disabled adults. Because at least in part to this audit, Hope House was able to secure a $28,000 grant to do badly needed energy efficiency up-grades. In August 2009, we assisted the City of Bainbridge Island to apply for a $250,000 Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREB). The application was approved by the IRS in October. The funds will be used to install a 34 KW photovoltaic system on the City Hall roof. Later this year (2009) we will complete the first "Renewables for All" project, when we install a solar hot water system on a Habitat for Humanity built home in Suquamish, WA. This will substantially reduce the electric bill for the new homeowner and her five young children. We are very excited about our new energy audit "field trip" program. We have arranged for people to have full scale energy audits done on their home. We then invite people to come and watch the work being done. The intent is to encourage people to have an audit done for their home, so they can save on energy and make their homes more comfortable. In October 2009, we organized our fourth annual Kitsap County Solar Tour, showcasing 21 homes accross the county. And not least, we were instrumental in legislation that was passed in Olympia in 2009 that provided financial incentives for community solar projects. People who normally could not become directly involved in renewable energy now a means to do so, and thereby reap the benefits.
We would be very grateful to receive general support. Funds to up-grade our website, to pay for promotion and marketing materials, paying for supplies, etc. That would be most helpful for us.