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
The Bainbridge Review lauds profusively the soon to be installed single solar panel on Sakaï's roof. Everybody seems happy and grateful but I am concerned by many aspects of this article. The price of installing one single 1 kWh panel seems to be estimated at $20K. From what I have read that sounds very expansive. It is projected this panel could bring a $400 per year on an annual electric bill of $40K. Investing $20K to recoup $400 is a very bad deal and it is not in line with what most people tell about the return on solar panels. Furthermore I wonder how the school can have an electricity bill of $40K. That looks huge. Then there is the problem of how this panel is financed. Apparently it is paid for by a "grant" from PSE (and Bonneville Power) and a group of concerned citizens has been started to raise private donations to install more panels.
It is frustrating to read about other places taking steps to promote solar energy while the new building is completely missing this opportunity: a sad waste. Although the energy company has a responsibility as it should systematically try to take advantage of large roofs to install solar panels (at its own expense and for its own benefit): after all they do install "solar farms" at their own cost (ie with the money we give them). The other responsibility lies with us as a community since we did not push for solar panels on the roof, did not lobby the high school nor PSE :(
BELLEVUE, Wash. (Feb. 4, 2008) – As part of Puget Sound Energy’s
ongoing efforts to advance renewable energy generation, the utility
last Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, issued a request for proposals (RFP) to
provide up to five schools in PSE’s service area each a 1 kilowatt to 5
kilowatt photovoltaic solar system.