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There are many reasons homeowners decide to go solar: financial incentives, powering their home with clean energy, adding to their home’s resale value and working to combat climate change.
When Mac Taylor decided to go solar, it was from a place of environmental stewardship and smart finances. As a pastor, Mac has committed his life to caring for the world and its people. The positive effects solar has on climate change aligned with his life’s work of providing a clean and positive future for his grandkids and future great grandkids, as well as alleviating the suffering of the poor who often live in areas most affected by pollution. Solar made financial sense for his home. Since the initial cost of installation would eventually pay for itself while adding value to his home, it was a win-win for his family.
After extensive solar research, reading online reviews and sitting down with several solar installers, Mac chose Sunergy Systems to install his solar electric system. Positive online reviews, talking with others who’d gone solar and his initial consult with our Solar Design Consultant Joe Deets, all played into his decision to have us install his system. As a company he chose Sunergy because, “Sunergy is an employee owned company. Everyone has a stake in their success. It is a great company to work with!”
Each spring, there is a crunch of homeowners wanting to go solar as soon as possible and start producing! Although he had to wait a few weeks, he was happy with the final outcome. The installation went smoothly and professionally, the project had no hidden costs and he was excited to see how the black frame panels meshed aesthetically into his charcoal grey roof so well.
Does Mac have any advice for others looking to power their homes or businesses with solar? “If you are considering going solar, I would recommend you look into the incentive program asap. Next year’s Washington State legislation may change, but the present incentives end in June 2020, so the sooner you install solar, the more financial benefits you can reap.” For Mac and his family, it was the right thing to do, and it really is fun to watch your meter race backwards!
Environmental concerns topped the list for Town & Country Market when they first looked at solar. After attending a solar workshop and working with Greg Williams, one of the employee-owners of Sunergy Systems, the T&C owners felt that solar was part of the answer to their mounting electric bills. As responsible grocers, the owners of Town & Country Market made the decision to purchase a 120-panel photovoltaic system to offset some of their electrical usage and make a positive environmental statement.
What was the process of coming to that decision? Many in the Pacific Northwest don't quite realize how well solar works in our region. The solar educational workshop helped to clarify this common question. After their site survey, they were encouraged by the numbers! T&C decided to add a solar array to their large store remodel project as part of their conscientious movement towards sustainability.
They were happy to see their project on time and on budget as part of the store remodel. While the store was still going through construction phases, the solar array has been silently working away in the background. The array is ready to be revealed when the store has it's Grand Opening. Over the next ten years, Town & Country will enjoy utility savings of nearly $35,000 and projected revenue from the State's incentive program of $28,5000.
What would the owners of the Town & Country Markets tell other members of their community about going solar? "My best advice would be to go in the conversation with an open mind. Then evaluate if solar is the right choice for your business or home. Since we are still under construction, the community is not really aware of our solar system yet. However, our staff is excited to know we have taken this step." The Bainbridge Island community will be excited too, when they see solar commitment to the environment.32.4kW Solar System Specifications System: 120 - SolarWorld SW270 modules with 3 - Fronius IG Plus 10.0 Inverters Array: Fixed with a Southern 14° tilt; 2,210 SF First Year Power Production: 33,809 kW Utility Bill Savings in First 10 Years: $34,915 (2015 rates)
The Valley View Sewer District and Water District #125 were a bit before their time when they installed a six-panel 1kW solar pv system way back in 2006. Their environmentally conscious decisions continued in 2013 with the purchase of two systems to offset the electric bills of Valley View Sewer District and the Water Sewer District Condo Association created to manage their joint administration building built in 2006. Both the Water and Sewer district serve customers in the City of Tukwila and surrounding area.
First, Valley View Sewer District purchased a 40-panel 9.6 kW Itek Energy solar system that was installed on their new vehicle garage building located in Tukwila. Then the Water Sewer District Condo Association followed suit by purchasing a 120-panel SolarWorld, SMA 32.4 kW solar system.
The decision to go solar was based on a much higher rate of return against capital assets. Their current asset returns though a county investment pool was providing them a nominal return, so a return of 8.0% from solar made the most economical sense to them! Why invest in two very different solar systems? Washington-made solar products maxed their economic opportunities for state incentives which made it even more attractive to the Valley View Sewer District. While a cost-per-panel for out-of-state panels made more sense to the Water Sewer District Condo Assoc. given that the state incentive has a cap that is not always advantageous for larger systems. For the new garage building, their annual electricity consumption is much less than the Administrative building and thus an in-state system will offset nearly 15% of the facility’s annual kWh consumption and cap the states solar production incentive at $5,000 annually through mid 2020. These wise choices made for different systems fulfilling the solar goals of the Sewer District and the Condo Association. For the Administrative building the choice of an out-of-state system also allowed the capping of the solar production incentive at $5,000 through mid 2020 and also offset 18% of that facilities annual kWh consumption versus just a third of that if they had gone with an in-state system.
Why now? The State Sales tax exemption incentive expiration on June 30, 2013 and the ability to take advantage of the State Solar Production Incentive Program for longer encouraged these public agencies to go solar in 2013. Valley View Sewer District and the Water Sewer Condo Association also felt that their position needed to be forward thinking for future generations about how solar benefitted their community.
This month the Haziq family is our Project of the Month. The Haziq family from Bonney Lake made the choice to go solar recently as a way of doing their part to help combat climate change. Mustafa Haziq is uncertain of the scope of the impact humans are making on our climate. But what was certain was his family’s desire to become sustainable, reduce their carbon footprint and help future generations.
Purchasing Washington-made modules and inverter made perfect sense to Mustafa and his wife Zohra. It reduced the project’s carbon footprint by shortening the trip the materials had to make from the plant floor to their home. It provided a faster payback by qualifying for the Washington renewables incentive program.
The Haziqs have been looking into solar for many years. The decision to buy in 2013 was made easy when factoring in the quicker payback. When they researched solar previously a few years ago, the payback was 10-15 years due to how much more expensive it was to go solar then. Currently, the payback on their 4.8 kW system will happen in just six years. The Haziqs love their new solar system which consists of 20 Itek Energy IT240 modules and the Eltek 4.4He-t inverter which includes web monitoring which they say make it very convenient and easy to use. This custom designed system offsets 64% of the Haziqs annual electrical usage through Puget Sound Energy.
The draw to become sustainable and go solar was easy for this family that already chose environmentally-friendly practices like using rain barrels, composting and owning a hybrid car. It is also Mustafa’s hope that going solar will inspire more people to consider sustainability and solar power. The Haziqs wisely chose to go solar and have been harvesting sunshine of one of our best summers ever!
Greg Freitag became one of Sunergy Systems’s 600 customers when he decided to go solar back in March 2013. He was among the many Pacific Northwesterners that were skeptical about solar’s capability in our little corner of the world. However, Greg was prompted to explore solar by his son who lives in sunny California.“Living in the cloudy and rainy NW, I erroneously assumed that solar was really not an option. After reviewing all of the incentives, Federal and State, solar not only became a possibility but it really did make sense, both economically and socially.”
Sunergy Systems installed a 6.2kW Itek Energy system at the Freitag residence making the Freitags one of only 31 Peninsula Light customers to go solar! Greg Williams, Sunergy’s most experienced Solar Design Consultant, designed the system to fit the Freitag’s energy needs and annual usage. The system utilizes the entire south-facing roof with minimal tree shading, maximizing the energy output and creating an aesthetically pleasing symmetry.
The Freitag’s solar electric system will produce over 175,874 kWh during the next 30 years, which means that is thirty-four tons of coal that would not have been mined, burned and spewed into the environment! Greg couldn’t be happier about making the switch to solar and he is excited every time he looks at his meter, “It is fun to see my meter go backwards.”
Patti Kashiwa is a local resident to Northwest Seattle. The idea of solar was in the future. The Kashiwa residence joined 52 families who went solar as a part of the Go Solar Seattle Northwest program. “I had been thinking about putting solar panels up for some time but I was not sure how to make the installation. When I received a flyer from Go Solar Northwest I thought that this was my opportunity. The community seminars were great, they sharpened my interest and provided a lot of information.”
At her residence in Seattle, Sunergy Systems installed a 9.2kW SunPower System. With the SunPower 327W module they will be able to generate 1/3 more power than with any other system between her house and detached garage, allowing them to power their electric car in the near future.
“The effect of the solar system has been great. Our electricity bill was cut by more than half and that was in March. I can't wait to see what happens this summer. It is impressive to see the system producing power even on a relatively cloudy day. I have started to think about the next phase of Going Solar and I am looking in to using the solar panels to charge an electric car. And thanks to Sunergy and a little planning, our system is big enough to meet the needs of the household and power an electric vehicle. I am also considering installing solar water heating and I look forward to working with Sunergy on that project.”
The Kashiwa household is now ready for their first solar production-harvesting season! This is a feel good investment they will never forget.
A local family chooses to go solar for three households. Judy Willingham recognizes the importance of reducing her carbon footprint by going solar and she has passed that idea on to her son Dodd. Dodd and his wife Joana also had solar installed at their own home and at their rental property too.
“We are going to be moving backward in comfort rather than forward in comfort if we don’t make some serious changes.” Judy truly believes that we need to make changes to reduce our footprint, she may just be “a drop in the bucket” but she is inspiring those around her in her family, her community and her church.
Judy Willingham is a retired Pharmacist settled in Redmond, Washington, and is a true pioneer woman. She has always pushed the limits and roles that society has placed on women; she received her college degree in pharmacy and launched her career in the early 60’s during an era of gender barrier for her profession. Judy’s scientific learning resulted in solar energy; captivating her attention as she began following it in the late 60’s while living in Southern California, where there is sunshine for solar year round. Judy has followed the advancements of solar since then, which she assumed would be a cloudy idea when she moved to the rain forest of Puget Sound from sunny central WA. It wasn’t until she met Howard Lamb, the founder of Sunergy Systems, a local employee-owned solar installation company, that the idea of solar in the Northwest was reborn again.
To Judy going solar is something “We have to do.” In December of 2012, Judy went solar! Sunergy Systems installed a 3.1kW Silicon Energy system on her south facing roof in Redmond Washington. Being part of a Homeowner’s Association, her install did not go without getting approval. Two neighbors signed off on the solar install, both of which were excited to be a part of Judy’s process. They were a bit disappointed when the install was complete that they were unable to see it from the street, as the system is on the back south-facing roof. Through her install, Judy has inspired solar in her community!
From the community to her church, Unity of Bellevue, Judy is seen as a leader with a “Pioneer Spirit”, as Reverend Nancy puts it. Judy is a licensed Unity teacher and Prayer Chaplain Coordinator at Unity of Bellevue, where she has also served as a significant leader in their Going Green Team. The Church just received an award for “Most Improved” in the Eastside Green Business Challenge. “The importance of being green is part of who they are at Unity of Bellevue!” says Reverend Nancy.
Reverend Nancy looks forward to the day that they will be able to do solar on the church, but she notes that the congregation looks to role models such as Judy. “The idea of solar can be overwhelming, if Judy who is retired can do it, then I can too!”
It was on Unity of Bellevue’s Going Green Team when Judy met Howard of Sunergy Systems. She didn’t know that the idea of solar would become her reality so quickly. There was a great confidence in going with Sunergy Systems, to do the project she has been waiting years for. A 3.1kilowatt Silicon Energy system is what Judy decided on because it made dollars and sense.
Judy selected Silicon Energy for two main reasons. The first reason was the paypack, with the current State’s incentive program Judy’s system will pay for itself in her lifetime. Silicon Energy, being an in State manufacturer, receives $0.54 per kilowatt-hour it produces through the State’s production incentive until 2020. The production incentive was established to create local green jobs in our State, which is exactly what it has done and supporting local jobs was Judy’s second reason to go with Silicon Energy.
Judy wasn’t the only one in her family who went solar with Silicon Energy in December 2012. Her son Dodd and wife Joanna Willingham went solar on not one, but two of their properties! Dodd has been exposed to the idea of solar and renewable energy for many years, with his father working for NASA and Judy a Pharmacist; science was the topic of conversation at the dinner table.
Dodd’s interest in solar took off shortly after high school, but living in Seattle around all the beautiful trees, he thought maybe it was wind instead of solar he should look into because of shading. He thought about buying land in Ellensburg for wind power and invested in the stock market for solar, although he lost money in the stock market, the idea of solar wasn’t gone. It was always an option for Dodd, as long as he could minimize his global footprint and that it was economically viable as well.
With the values gained from his mother Judy of thinking globally and acting locally, along with the values of his wife Joana of acting sustainably, going solar for Dodd was a sound investment. So sound, that they went solar at both their home and rental property. Joana says, “It makes good business sense too. Our tenants are able to participate in Green Renewable Energy and through Net Metering it is sustainable for us, a win/win for both side.”
Sunergy Systems installed a 5.6kW SolarWorld system at their home in Bothell. The SolarWorld modules paired with the EnPhase mirco inverter allows them to keep their trees in the back yard without worrying about shading and losing efficiency of their panels. Another reason Dodd and Joana choose SolarWorld was the fact that SolarWorld has been in business for over 30 years. Knowing that their system is a legacy they will pass on to their twins, a reputable solar module manufacturer was important. Their twins will grow up with solar as the norm, understanding the underlying principles. They even got a Solar Powered Logo car for Christmas too.
The made-in-Washington 3.1kW Silicon Energy system that Sunergy Systems installed on Dodd and Joana’s rental house will be paid off in 7-8 years with the State’s production incentive. “7-8 year payback, can’t beat that by any other investment!” stated Dodd ecstatically.
The State’s incentive programs and the “family discount” from Sunergy Systems made solar a very appealing investment to all of the Willingham’s. Dodd actually had bids from two other solar installers, but choose Sunergy Systems based off reviews with the BBB, along with the product selection and durability.
The Willingham family is excited for the day that solar on a roof is the norm and seenas attractive. Three more homes now have solar on them and as Judy would say, “That is more drops in the bucket!”
"Coal Sucks, and Oil Burns. No sense waiting for Kyoto and Copenhagen, we’ve got to do this ourselves. Thanks to the Go Solar Seattle NW Campaign for doing the leg-work and research to make ‘going solar’ easy!" Dwight Beckmeyer.Dwight Beckmeyer is not just sitting back watching the effects of climate change, he is stepping up to take action!
His 5.2 KW DC SunPower system consisting of sixteen SP 327 Watt, 20% efficient modules, will produce 5,878 KWh’s AC annually due to the exceptionally great South facing roof with 99% Annual Solar Access. This system should offset over 100% of his current annual KWh consumption of electricity.The Beckmeyer’s decided to oversize their system installation to be ready for the addition of an Electric Vehicle a few years ahead and take full advantage of the sizeable system discount from the Go Solar Seattle Northwest program.
Our project of the month is the first family to go solar as part of the Go Solar Seattle Northwest program.
The Kahles decided to go with a 5.5kW Silicon Energy System. They’ve have been following the solar market for several yearsand recently bought an electric vehicle. For Paul and Vanessa, the timing just seemed perfect to go solar now. As Paul proudly says, “I’m putting as many watts on my roof as it will hold. It’s green, it’s cool and the price is right”. They couldn’t be happier with their decision to Go Solar.
The Kalhe's 5.5kW Silicon Energy System will offset 69% of their power usage and will produce 164,605kWh over the next 30 years; which offsets 334 barrels of oil needed for the average American home to generate the same amount of electricity over the same amount of time!
A truly cooperative enterprise between Sustainable Edmonds, City of Edmonds, Tangerine Power, Sunergy Systems. The co-op model was chosen for this community solar project to benefit people whose roofs face the wrong way, live in the forest, or apartments, condos, don’t have the money for an entire system, or simply don’t want solar on their home.
The 90 members bought SunSlices in increments of $1,000 each and will receive about $100 back each year over the 8 year contract. Plus surplus, by whatever the members decide to do with the system at the end of contract with the City of Edmonds. And with the co-op structure, it is 1 member, 1 vote. Our original 34 members built a 4.2 kW Silicon Energy system in the summer of 2011. With 56 new members, and existing members buying more Slices, we raised enough to build an additional 18.9 kW in late summer 2012.
The Edmonds City Council was concerned about us penetrating the flat roofs and the Historic Preservation Commission was looking at the impact on a registered historic building, during the planning stage 3 years ago. We chose Silicon Energy, partly because of their ability to hold up to the harsh marine climate that the panels are exposed to on the roof of the Frances Anderson Community Center, with salt air & exposure C wind classification. The Cooper B-Line Arista racks needed no anchoring, with proper ballasting, according to the engineers (mfr. & City). The Silicon Energy panels, though barely visible from the street, are a beautiful addition to the flat gray roof. And boy, do they have a nice view!
The 18.9 kW Phase 2 system consists of Silicon Energy (L) and Itek (R) solar modules. The racks are from Sunmodo, in Vancouver, WA. The extra layer of roofing under the ballasted racks is the kind of conscientious installation that got Sunergy Systems the encore job of installing Phase 2. The City of Edmonds, as a US DOE Sunshot partner, is working to streamline the permitting process for solar installations and they exempted the costs of the panels and inverters before determining valuation for permit fee calculation. This saved the Co-op thousands. The City is buying all the power from both systems at a 40% discount, as well as getting a yearly roof lease fee. The Co-op maintains insurance on the system and the building.
This project represents 90 people who put their money where their values are. The cooperative efforts of a multitude of kindred souls made this (as far as we know) the first truly community owned solar cooperative project in America.