The Town of Friday Harbor will activate its first solar power project on the island this week.
“I am pleased to see this project come online,” said Mayor Farhad Ghatan. “It is incumbent on us to do what we can to use renewable resources. It is not only environmentally beneficial but provides a benefit to our ratepayers.”
The solar panel array, which is a 100 kW (DC) Solar Photovoltaic System, is located on a quarter acre of Town property behind the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project is guaranteed to produce 95,000-plus kW hours of electricity per year using solar panels and electrical inverters made in Washington State. Apollo Solution Group, through a Washington State Department of Commerce grant, installed the array.
The town is estimated to have a 12 percent reduction of the energy costs for the WWTP as a result of this installation. At current OPALCO rates, the total energy cost savings is roughly $9,500 annually. The electricity generated by the panels will power WWTP systems directly with any excess power then feeding OPALCO’s grid, providing Town a power credit.
“The solar panels are expected to provide a modest portion of the power that we use, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Ghatan said. “The Town will continue to seek out renewable and cost-saving energy resources.”
This energy savings process commenced with an Investment Grade Audit (IGA) performed by Apollo Solutions Group. ASG approached the Town about solar grants available through the Department of Commerce and how the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services Energy Program could facilitate this project. The Town immediately began pursuing the grant funding.
After performing the audit, it became apparent that the installation of the solar array would lower the WWTP’S carbon footprint and energy costs and would be consistent with the Town’s long-term efforts to support renewable resource initiatives. The energy savings from the project will fund repayment of the loan the town acquired to pay the grant’s match. The significant savings made the project more attractive to the mayor and town council. ASG was successful in applying for and securing the solar grant on behalf of the Town.
Solar power is an important step in the much broader Town strategy to address greenhouse gas impacts. Other goals include improving vehicle fleet efficiency, supporting the expanded use of electric vehicles, implementing energy-saving measures in Town buildings and facilities and promoting green building standards. Collectively, these actions will help steer the Town towards meeting its greenhouse gas elimination objectives.
The Town of Friday Harbor would like to thank the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Department of Enterprise Services for their partnership in bringing this project to fruition.