Joe Deets of Cenergy Solutions provides additional and different information than what was reported in the Review. In fact the Review left out quite a lot. I have put my comments at the end :)
The author’s rather humbug commentary is the result of one article in the Review. The “Solar for Sakai” project is a grass roots community effort led by Community Energy Solutions, a new island nonprofit. For some time now we have been working with the BI School District, Sakai School and BIHS’s Earth Service Corp. It is indeed unfortunate that the Review didn’t bring up that the Earth Service Corp students delivered a petition to the School Board that night with 700 signatures supporting the project. Nor did it mention that the revenue generated from the electricity generated will be re-invested by the school into energy efficiency measures. As far as PSE’s involvement, we became aware of their solar for schools grant and jumped at the chance to win it. Although we asked for $20,000, it looks like we will get about half of that. That money will go towards design, permitting, 1.1 KW worth of PV installation and on-line signage. With the support of the community we intend to do much more than that. The author makes a good point in asking whether the utility company should be doing more. His overall approach in fact seems to be that we should wait for someone else to do something. We tried that and it doesn’t work. So lets look at what is happening here: a grass roots community effort has begun to create a long lasting solar energy system for one of our schools, which will then serve as a model for further community projects. How cool is that?
Community Energy Solutions
We agree about the fact that Puget Sound Energy should do much more as the money they are using to develop renewable sources is ours (as their customers). While PSE is asking for approval of its buyout by a foreign company (Canadian and Australian) it is appropriate to make sure adequate funding for local solar energy projects becomes a serious part of their strategy, including on Bainbridge Island: for now it is not but for very small token like-lip service investments. This grassroots effort is great and Iam not saying the community has to wait to start doing something. I think that if the community wants to have much more (and much more is needed) we have to address the many other key policy issues that can really bring changes on a bigger scale. In the review article (as I read it) PSE looks like a white knight: I don't think they are. They should invest much more on solar roofs all over Western Washington.