Let’s Talk Alternatives–Energy That Is

Giant towers, arms spinning pepper the hillsides as you travel from one side of Washington state to the other.

It’s not simply all the rainfall that keeps our state green. It’s a mindset. We recycle, we conserve, we think outside the box.

That doesn’t mean we’re going to set up a few of these down in the meadow.

But we have been exploring other options. The company that installed our heat pump last summer, replacing the heating system in the girls’ wing, also works with solar energy.

I know, I know, we live in western Washington. Does the sun ever shine there? The answer is surprisingly yes.

The “solar guy” from Northwest Mechanical came by to scope out our situation. You need a southern facing roof or wall for the panels. Our portico offers the perfect place.

The great thing is that no one will ever see them. OK, maybe the guy in the plane flying low or the parachuter we saw recently might notice them, but the rest of us with our feet planted firmly on the ground won’t even notice them.

The portico is a huge, strangely-shaped wedge perfectly designed to unobtrusively hold a bunch of solar arrays.

So we have the perfect spot, it’s doable, is it worth it? That’s the real question.

The solar guy came up with two proposals featuring solar array systems and a converter for our home. The first generated 25-percent of our energy use and the second 39. Let’s be really honest, solar energy is expensive.

With all the hydro-electric power we have in Washington, power is pretty cheap. Why would we move forward?

The solar guy had some compelling arguments. The federal government is encouraging alternative sources of energy and is offering a 30-percent tax credit on the cost of the system and installation. Now, that’s helpful.

In addition, the local power company will buy the kilowatts our system produces at a higher price than we would pay for them. They also won’t charge us for the ones we produce and consume ourselves.

Washington state produces an abundance of power that it in turn sells to California. I imagine the power company makes more selling power out of state, so our little system helps them sell more elsewhere.

They also bank our kilowatts. So on those sunny summer days when we’re making lots of power, we’re also saving it up for all those gray days in November, December, January, and the gloom extends forever.

So we get a tax credit, the local power company will pay us for our power at an inflated rate until 2020, and finally, it’s one of the biggest returns on investment as far as house renovations are concerned. The solar guy–so he could be biased–said we get a better return on investment than a kitchen remodel.

So we’ve done it. We’ve ordered a solar array and we’re going green. Let’s just hope it looks as good in real life as it does on paper. I guess we’ll just wait and see.

Have you tried any green ventures lately?


5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Alternatives–Energy That Is

  1. I fear we are woefully behind the 8-ball on being green. I do have fabric bags for grocery shopping, that I have had for about 10 years–long before you could pick them up at the check-out stand.

    • Lori, I think each little change makes a difference I like how a few bags in my car can keep plastic bags down to a minimum. All the local grocers have a bin for recycling those bags, too. It all helps.

      MK, I’m sure Nevada has a ton of solar. It’s interesting to watch our world change.

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