Independent Committee to Build New Green Power Program for OPALCO

An independent steering committee made up of OPALCO members has begun to meet with the mission of developing a proposal for a new green power program that would provide financial incentives for renewable generation and, potentially, fund energy efficiency and conservation measures beyond what OPALCO can offer through Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) conservation program.

Why is OPALCO rebuilding its green power program? OPALCO was one of the first utilities to establish an interconnect program and demand has outgrown OPALCO’s current capacity to fund the incentive program that helps members offset the costs of installing a renewable generator. As of this July, there are 82 members generating their own renewable energy (solar, micro-hydro and wind) and interconnecting to the OPALCO grid—and more in the process of designing or completing a project. Of OPALCO’s 11,000 members, 0.75% are interconnected—nearly ten times more than any other utility in the region (the next closest are Inland Power with 0.09% and Puget Sound Energy with 0.07%). Since the beginning of the green power program in 2000, OPALCO has paid members a total of $198,928 for installation incentives—and $113,055 (57%) of that was paid out in 2009 alone. The OPALCO Board voted to cap incentive payouts for 2010 at $25,000 and asked staff to find a new revenue source for the incentives going forward.

Energy Services is calling the new program in development MORE (Member Owned Renewable Energy). The MORE Steering Committee will meet the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Details on the place and time, and meeting agendas, will be posted on the OPALCO Energy Services Blog at energysavings.opalco.com. The Steering Committee members represent each ferry-served island, the outer islands and at large positions. The Steering Committee members are: John Mottl (Orcas), Pete Kilpatrick (San Juan), Jeff Dyer (Lopez), TBD (Shaw), John Ashenhurst (Outer IslandsCrane), Eric Youngren (At Large), Peter Risser (At Large), Chris & Chom Greacen (At Large), Winnie Adams (OPALCO Board Member), John Bogert (OPALCO Board Member). The Steering Committee is staffed by Anne Bertino, Beth Anderson and Elisa Scott-Howard, of Energy Services. MORE Steering Committee meetings are open to the public.

OPALCO is a member-owned cooperative electrical utility serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 95% greenhouse-gas free and is predominately generated by hydroelectric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937 to bring electricity to rural islanders.