Energy Savings Blog

Our Collective Load on the Grid

Monday, October 31st, 2016

OPALCO has about 11,200 members, distributed across 20 islands, all connected by the grid. How do the patterns of daily life show up on the grid? OPALCO manages our collective energy load carefully to make best use of member resources and keep rates as low as possible. Understanding our energy usage patterns is important as we embrace more intermittent resources, such as wind and solar, and as we make decisions today about our power supply tomorrow.

Load ChartOur local grid connects to the mainland through two submarine cables. These cables draw power from a transmission network . . . READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Green Home Tours Part 2

Monday, October 24th, 2016

 

 

montesorri-pv

We had a FANTASTIC time with the San Juan Islands Conservation District this month with the Green Home Tours.  Participants got to see local homes and businesses on the cutting edge of energy conservation and efficiency, as well as buildings using tried and true methods, getting back to the basics.  Here are some green highlights from the different sites we visited:

 

Lopez:

  • Straw bale construction, earthen plaster, solar hot water heat, and lots of photo voltaic systems.

 

San Juan:

  • Energy Star rated appliances, weather resistive barrier wrap, in-floor heating, heat recovery ventilator.

 

Orcas:

  • Water catchment, smart thermostats, LED Lighting, Solar Education (with PV Array on site!), Electric Vehicle Charging station.

 

One item that was common at almost every single building we visited (including low-income residential housing, state-of-the-art commercial businesses, and cutting edge high-end design) was Ductless Heat Pumps.  The majority of energy used in San Juan County is used for heating, and Ductless Heat Pumps are a hyper-efficient way to get the job done.  Learn how to cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint by investing in a DHP, and monitor your savings using SmartHub – our FREE tool to manage your OPALCO account and monitor your energy usage.

Want to see some of the places we visited on the tour?  Interested in adding your home?  Go to www.GreenHomeSanJuans.org and view the Interactive Map!  Thanks to all that participated, and getting involved!

 

Green Home Tours

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

 

In partnership with the San Juan Islands Conservation District, OPALCO is helping to host a tour of homes in the Green Home Network.  This Saturday, we went to Lopez and saw some amazing homes that highlighted the best of energy efficiency and resource conservation.  We saw solar panels, straw bale insulation, and lots of ductless heat pumps.  Additionally, our members were chauffeured from home to home in a fleet of Electric Vehicles from the Conservation District, OPALCO, and our awesome members.

 

We are going to continue the tour on San Juan October 8th, and Orcas October 22nd.  Come learn about energy efficiency and conservation, ask the experts about best practices, take a ride in an EV, and see some astounding local dwellings!

Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Checks Being Mailed

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Are you waiting for a check for the WA State Renewable Energy Incentive?  Payments are being mailed this week!  These incentives help to offset the cost of installing renewable energy generating systems.

If you are an Interconnected Member Generator (see Member Policy 14 for details), OPALCO measures every kWh you produce, and we pay you for each unit per the guidelines from the State legislature.  This means that you can send power back to the grid for your friends and neighbors to use, OR you can use it at your home or business; either way, you get credit for it!

If you want to keep an eye on how much you’re using versus how much you produce, the SmartHub tool allows you to monitor your consumption and generation.  It also allows you to review your billing history, and find out how much you send back to your friends and neighbors each month.  Thank you, Member Generators for generating over 988,000 kilowatt hours this year!

smarthub-net-meter-screenshot

Net Meter Analysis

Renewables on Decatur

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

OPALCO enjoys the opportunity to speak at community events that involve our programs.  On Saturday, September 3rd, we had the pleasure of sharing some time with Dr. Steve Johnson (former Executive Director of the WA PUD Association) on Decatur Island to talk about OPALCO’s Renewable Energy programs, and also discuss some future thoughts about Community Solar in the San Juan Islands.  We pondered over topics like Net Metering, M.O.R.E., and Policy 14 – Interconnection of Member Generators, and had a great dialogue with the membership.  There was an awesome turnout, and we had lots of great questions.

DecaturBulb

We have already participated in Community Solar projects, and we are looking into the future to see what the next project will look like in the San Juans.  To find out more about Community Solar and the future of OPALCO, check out our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in the Resource Library.

Have a meeting you’d like OPALCO to be a part of?  Need someone to speak about local energy, renewables, or conservation and efficiency?  Contact us to see if we can help!  

Tips ‘n Tricks

Friday, August 12th, 2016

This is a great article showing some ways to save energy.  Some of these don’t cost a cent, and can save much more.  Others may cost more, but can contribute to a world of savings.

25 Ways To Save

www.finehomebuilding.com

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY REBATES WHILE THE SUN IS SHINING

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

GE Heat Pump Water Heater

GE Heat Pump Water Heater

Summer is a great time to take on efficiency projects and rebates for appliances (heat pump water heaters, clothes washers) and heat pumps (ductless and ducted) are still available. Rebate funding is expected to run out by September and additional funding may not be available until 2017.

In anticipation of this shortage, OPALCO’s Energy Savings staff put a temporary hold on larger projects and weatherization rebates (windows, insulation, duct sealing) last fall in order to make our remaining funds last as long as possible. Rebate details and forms are online.

Read the full story

New Website Links

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Check out the new websites from our partners at the San Juan Islands Conservation District!

Take Charge of your energy savings, learn about electric vehicles, and follow the Georgetown University Energy Prize!

Take Charge!

Take Charge!

 

Get in touch with the Green Home Network!  Take the tour, connect with your green neighbors, and share your story!

GreenHome_7-29-16

Green Home Tou

Community Solar in the News

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

 

Check out this article by the Rocky Mountain Institute (sent in by a member) about the benefits of large-scale community renewable energy.  It’s a good overview of a complicated concept, and also a look at how other communities are approaching this.  Currently, our Member Owned Renewable Energy (M.O.R.E.) committee is reviewing options for San Juan County.

Community Solar: A Cost-Effective Bridge away from Net Metering?

Want more information?  Check out our Renewable Generation page!

Energy Upgrades are Always in Season

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Summertime looms, and for us Pacific Northwesterners, there are still plenty of cool days until we get to midsummer. Regardless of the time of year, You can make your home or business more energy efficient when you undertake projects aimed at improving lighting, weatherization, and home ventilation. The Community Energy Challenge (CEC) is all about improving our energy use, and took direct aim at saving energy and money.

In 2015 alone, the CEC helped with 38 energy upgrade projects affecting 26 homes in San Juan County. Homeowners took advantage of everything from duct sealing, weather stripping, new ductless heat pumps, ventilation improvements, and wall, attic and floor insulation. The homes and businesses were able to realize an average annual utility bill savings of $520.

The whole program was made possible by more than $76K in CEC incentive contributions, OPALCO energy savings rebates, and San Juan Conservation District non-electric grant funds. Also, the CEC commercial program, operated by Sustainable Connections, completed energy upgrades for 9 county businesses. Those improvements tackled lighting, heating, and weatherization.

Who paid for all this? CEC contributed $10,780 in project incentives and OPALCO rebates added another $3,647.

Need to know more about how these programs can help our low-income members? Call ……. And we can help you find programs and incentives that fit your home or business.