Energy Savings Blog

As heating costs rise, electric fuel is key

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

In a recent study from the federal U.S. Energy Information Administration, heating costs are expected to rise nationwide this winter due to an expected increase in demand, and prices. It will get cold this year! With the different heating fuel sources used in San Juan County (electric, propane, heating oil, wood), electric is the most cost effective way to heat your home, with oil and propane costs to increase up to 18% nationwide.

Need to replace your old propane furnace, or is your wood stove not keeping you warm enough? Consider a high-efficiency electric Ductless Heat Pump. You will use less energy, lower your overall energy bills, and improve the comfort levels in your home.

Community Solar News

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

 

Co-ops across the country are building more Community Solar, and getting much more attention.  Check out this article from Green Tech Media:

Rural Co-Ops and Public Utilities Have Voluntarily Built Nearly 100MW of Community Solar. Here’s Why:

Why do you want to be involved in Community Solar?  Let us know at Solar@OPALCO.com!

EV Recap

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Awesome turnout in Friday Harbor for the Electric Vehicle (EV) Car show!

EV Variety_Edited

There was a phenomenal turnout of OPALCO members at this weekend’s event. Many supporters of energy efficiency and conservation, as well as renewable energy advocates, were present to learn about current OPALCO programs, and future projects.

We learned about the different benefits of owning an EV in the islands, and the different varieties available now from different car manufacturers. Those featured on Saturday included Nissan, Chevrolet, Tesla, Mitsubishi, and BMW. Spectators also got a chance to look at the differences between 100% electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, like the now-familiar Toyota Prius.

Row of EVs_Edited

Along with highlighting why it makes sense to own an EV in San Juan County, OPALCO was there promoting renewable energy, and getting members to sign up for information about our upcoming Community Solar project, expected to break ground in 2018.  More information on this project will be available during the OPALCO Annual Meeting on Saturday May 6th, and we’re looking for interested members to sign up for our email distribution list.

If you want to be involved in Community Solar, please contact us at (360) 376-3571, or send an email to energysavings@opalco.com to get signed up!

EV Car show in Friday Harbor

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Electric Vehicles are driving the future!

Friday Harbor EV Car Show Final

When islanders purchase new cars, we are more frequently buying electric vehicles (EVs) than a traditional car, with an internal combustion engine. On San Juan Island on April 29th, 2017, in partnership with the San Juan Islands Conservation District, we are going to highlight some EVs you might see driving around, including hybrid cars, plug-in 100% electric vehicles, and some truly unique local endeavors.  You might see a Toyota Prius or two, a Nissan Leaf, some cutting-edge Teslas, and even a vehicle built by local students in Friday Harbor.

Help us celebrate our uncanny ability to save energy, and embrace new technologies, making us a clean and environmentally friendly community!

EV vs ICE Efficiency Comparison

Co-op Solar Capacity Increasing

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

 

Big news in Solar this morning:

“By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago ….”

http://www.electric.coop/cooperative-solar-skyrockets/

There are a lot of electric co-ops that are interested in expanding their solar programs, and OPALCO is one of them – in fact, in 2018 we’re planning on launching a robust Community Solar program for our membership.

Interested in OPALCO Community Solar?  Email us at energysavings@opalco.com to get on our mailing list!

Good News on the Horizon

Friday, February 10th, 2017

When it comes to new ideas, in the cooperative spirit we often seek what our colleagues in the Co-op world are doing.  What are their priorities?  What challenges are they facing, and how are they handling them?  What ideas do they have for energy efficiency, local renewables, and future sustainability?

OPALCO is thinking about some important concepts: peak demand shaving – local renewable generation – economic impact – sheep?  In one instance, we can see the same thought process in other Co-ops.  Take a look at this article about another Co-op that successfully invested in Community Solar.  Think Community Solar might be right for the San Juans?  Stay tuned!

Co-opCommunitySolar

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