Eastsound Suites on Main Street is the latest Orcas business to begin generating their own electricity. Orcas-based installer, Rainshadow Solar, completed installation earlier this month of 34 PV panels on the building’s cross gable roof.
The 13.4 kW system is expected to generate more than 14,000 kWh of clean energy annually — producing nearly 75% of Eastsound Suites’ annual energy use.
Building owner Leslie Brazeau is thrilled to begin generating her own solar energy.
As former manager of renewable energy programs for Seattle City Light, in 2012 Brazeau led Western Washington’s first Community Solar project sited atop a picnic shelter in Seattle’s Jefferson Park. The following year Ms. Brazeau initiated a collaborative effort with the Pacific Science Center to develop a solar demonstration project at the Seattle Center. The iconic Sonic Bloom public art installation is a 33-foot tall sculpture of night-glowing flowers that generates electricity from panels in the flower heads.
“It feels good to join other Orcas businesses and residents in contributing to a cleaner energy future. I hope the solar panels at 269 Main St. will serve as a visible reminder of the island’s ethos of environmental stewardship.”
Other Orcas businesses who have either already installed or have solar installations planned in the coming months are:
Con’s Pit Stop (7.5 kW)
Doty’s Marketplace (49.8 kW)
Access Equipment (11.8 kW)
Rain Shadow Consulting/Orcas Biomass (7.9 kW)
San Juan Title (16.4 kW)
A key driver for Orcas business solar installation is the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The program provides grants to encourage small businesses to invest in renewable energy generation. Additional incentives include a federal tax credit and a state sales tax exemption. OPALCO also provides full credit for all power generated that reduces energy consumption.
OPALCO Public Relations Administrator, Suzanne Olson, reports that since the start of 2020, Orcas has 17 new interconnected business and residential members with a total capacity of 210 kW.
In total, OPALCO has 416 interconnected members countywide with a total capacity of 3469 kW– enough to power nearly 350 island homes each year.