Archive for May, 2011

OPALCO’s Electric Vehicle Journey: The Mt. Constitution Test, Regenerative Brakes and CFL Charlie

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Orcas High 72

Besides the batteries, the kids were really interested in the sound system and how fast the car would go!

I was really happy to finally get to take the LEAF out last week for some testing.  First, on Tuesday,
I took the car to the Orcas High School Physics class. They are building a solar powered boat and
are studying and choosing a battery pack. See their project online:

Friday we took the car to the top of Mt. Constitution. I was really interested in the variation of mileage given the “mountain” we were driving up and the breaking and coasting down.

The LEAF has regenerative brakes that supply the battery when breaking and coasting. We started from the OPALCO office on Mt. Baker Rd. with a full charge and 101 miles predicted. Keep in mind the 101 miles is for absolutely perfect conditions and flat driving, including not using the radio or comfort system (heat or a/c). We left the radio and heat off. By the time we got to the top of Flaherty’s Hill we had 80 miles left but we had only gone 4.1 miles! Yikes! The LEAF had no trouble going up the hill as we traveled 41mph. By the time we got to the turn off to Mt. Constitution we had 82 miles on the car. We added a few coasting and breaking through the park.  The car had no issues going up the road and handled really well. At the top we had 39 miles left but had gone only 10.1 miles since Mt. Baker Rd.  Wow!

We are doing a promotion for an Energy Efficiency/Conservation contest using our partner, Touchstone Energy’s CFL Charlie. We were helping him make an appearance on Mt. Constitution.

Visit our website June 1st to enter the contest to win an Apple iPAD 2.

Back to the car – we left the parking lot on the top with 39 miles left. We got to the bottom with 82 miles left. Ta Da!  43 miles used on the way up and 43 miles gained on the way down. Pretty cool!!

Islanders Bank offers new Get Connected Small Home Improvement Loan Program

Monday, May 16th, 2011

At Saturday’s annual meeting on the ferry, a new program was unveiled to help members finance their home energy efficiency improvements. Islanders Bank is now offering the Get Connected Small Home Improvement Program with low-interest loans of between $2,000-$10,000 to qualifying households in San Juan County. The interest rates range from 4.5% and 5.315% APR (includes a 1% discount for an auto-payment from an Islanders Bank checking account). This is a convenient, low-cost and straightforward method of financing energy efficiency improvements to your home. When you consider the rebates available from OPALCO, as well as federal tax incentives – this is the right time to get on the path to energy efficiency. The first step is to schedule a Home Snapshot Energy Assessment to learn how and where you could be saving energy and money. To learn more about the Get Connected loan program, contact your local Islanders Bank branch: Orcas 376-2265; Lopez 468-2295; Friday Harbor 378-2265.

Nissan LEAF: OPALCO’s Electric Vehicle Journey

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Posted by Todd Shaner, OPALCO Manager of Operations: The car is very fancy. I’ve never had a new car so this is pretty exciting to drive. It has a lot of power. The concern I have is the way the numbers change up and down on the dashboard for how many miles there are left to drive before a charge. It’s somewhat disconcerting to watch the numbers; you never really know how many miles you have left. For instance, it is 3 miles from my house to the main road but the dashboard showed a change of 7 miles. I realize the range depends on road conditions, hills, etc. but it seems as if it shouldn’t vary so drastically.

Washington State a Hub of Renewable Energy Activity

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Developers have chosen Washington to be the site of three of the few tidal energy projects in the country. Each has received federal permitting, and one project, the 1 MW SnoPUD Admiralty Inlet Tidal project in Snohomish County, is using a $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to be operational by 2011. The University of Washington also received a federal grant to monitor aquatic life at the site of the project.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in Richland, is on the leading edge of biomass, marine, and other renewable energy research and development.

Washington is currently developing one of the largest solar photovoltaic projects in the world, a 75 MW project that would bring more than 200 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs to an economically depressed community east of Seattle.

From the American council on renewable energy or ACORE: “Renewable Energy in America: Markets, Economic Development and Policy in the 50 States.” Spring 2011 Update