Youngren tells County Council of energy alternatives

Eric Youngren, whose new business, Island Energy Systems, creates small-scale “kits” for home-use alternative energy systems, addressed the County Council regarding solar and renewable energy on June 24.

Youngren told the council, “We’re on the edge of an energy revolution,” and said that while global warming is probably the most important reason for the change, “probably motivation will come from oil prices. We’re at the brutal edge of the energy economy.”

Youngren said that his particular interests were solar and wind power, and that photo-voltaic (solar) energy is “the most hopeful resource.

He described the two basic types of photo-voltaic energy as grid-tied and off-grid. Basically, if your energy system generates more power than you use, your meter spins backward and you are “credited” energy. “We do have sunny summer days so it’s possible to zero out a meter on the yearly average.”

According to Youngren, the State will pay for your production of 500 kilowatt hours if the energy-producing panels are built in Washington State. Island Energy Systems manufactures small pre-wired kits for solar, wind and micro-hydroelectric system packages for individual homeowners and building contractors. Many of his products are shipped off-island.

Youngren described wind power as “site-specific” with need for both wind and enough space for a wind tower, and not really practical for individual household use. Theoretically, the best places for wind power production are mountain tops and ridges. Wind power “should be on the radar as far as producing energy, along with photo-voltaic energy,” said Youngren. And, he added, higher wind periods coincide with peak demand.

Council member Alan Lichter commented that it’s a “struggle to put experimental wind farms anywhere,” and that residential packages of wind and solar power would be optimal here.

While Youngren said, “We’re lucky in the Northwest to have hydro power,” he added, “A lot of people are intrigued by solar and our population would get on board to support local efforts to create more energy and practice conservation.”