Solar Power Company Aims to Make Lewis County Greener
Dec 21, 2012 (Menafn - The Chronicle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --With its notorious rain and reputation for overcast skies, one might think the Pacific Northwest is a terrible place for producing solar energy. But think again, Kirk Haffner of South Sound Solar Inc., said to about 30 Lewis County area home and business owners who gathered in Centralia Wednesday to learn about the potential of solar energy in Western Washington.
The former Castle Rock math and science teacher said Germany produces the most solar energy in the world and actually gets less sunlight.
Haffner said Washington is better for solar energy than even Arizona because the hot sunny weather heats the tempered glass panels, making them less efficient.
Paul Munson used Haffner's Olympia-based company to install a solar system in his Grand Mound home four years ago.
"It's tremendous, worry-free, it just keeps working away," he said of his system that produces an average of 4,000 kilowatts a year.
Compared with other sources, solar energy is the most pollution-free, sustainable and abundant resource, Haffner said.
"More sunlight falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year," he said.
Because the low maintenance solar technology has reached a mature stage, there is no longer a reason to wait, the construction industry veteran said.
"In fact, when we talk about incentives, the time is now," Haffner said.
The federal government is offering homeowners like Munson a 30 percent tax credit for installing a home solar system through 2016 and the state is waiving sales taxes until June.
In Washington, production meters are installed with solar systems to measure the power produced. The owner then gets paid 15 to 54 cents per kilowatt hour produced in addition to receiving savings on their utility bills.
"Literally, with solar electricity, you get paid twice," Haffner said.
Munson said his system earns him an average of 105 a month. He said he gets about 55 per month from Puget Sound Energy, an additional 25 for the energy his system puts back into the power grid, and he saves about 25 on each utility bill.
Munson said his 32,000 system will pay for itself over about 15 years.
Consumers can receive additional incentives by buying solar products from Washington manufacturers.
"We can set up completely made in Washington systems," Haffner said.
With energy prices up and solar prices down, now is a good time to invest in the clean energy, he said.
South Sound Solar and other reputable installers can help home and business owners like Munson determine if their property is right for solar and analyze the costs and savings.
"We don't want to put solar where it doesn't work," Haffner said.
Haffner encourages those interested to look at ways to save energy today like sealing and properly insulating homes and getting more efficient heating sources before going solar.
Amy Nile: (360) 807-8235
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