Solar energy campaign comes to island – South Whidbey Record

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Whidbey denizens are now eligible to join a campaign to bring solar energy to Island County.

Nonprofit organization Solarize has successfully helped residents of other counties in Washington install solar panels with the help of vetted installers and discounted prices. This year, the program has extended to Island County, and homeowners and business owners can access solar energy at prices below market rates until July 4.

Solarize Island County is sponsored by Kicking Gas, a Whidbey-based climate justice organization with the mission to decarbonize the island with the use of electric appliances. Kicking Gas led a successful campaign last year to install over 100 ductless heat pumps in Whidbey households.

The focus is now on converting to solar, which can initially appear intimidating to the average customer. However, Kicking Gas has made the process easier by selecting a handful of vetted contractors – including Whidbey Sun & Wind – to complete the work. Those interested in signing up for a free solar site assessment can visit solarizeisland.org for more information. Inquiries can also be directed to [email protected], [email protected] or 360-481-4020.

The use of solar panels can help reduce energy bills with the use of net metering, which allows a customer to earn utility bill credits for any extra energy that flows back into the electrical grid, according to a press release from Kicking Gas. Customers can offset their entire electrical bill with solar, except for their fixed monthly customer charge.

Kicking Gas Campaign Director Derek Hoshiko said he hopes to get 100 to 120 households signed up for the solar program. His personal goal is for 50 people to get solar into their homes.

He estimated that the average cost of solar panel installation ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. Although Kicking Gas isn’t offering any subsidies, there are other incentives, such as no state sales tax and federal tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. Loans from the Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union can also be accessed.

This past week, South Whidbey residents were invited to an informational session about the new program.

Leaders of Kicking Gas also spoke to the Langley City Council about their decarbonization and affordable electrification efforts. Council members expressed willingness to work together and explore low-impact collaboration methods, with a careful eye on the city’s budget.

“We are in a climate emergency and we can support each other to build the resource base that we need to take action without breaking the bank and without stressing anyone,” Hoshiko said during the meeting.

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