Coupeville port wins solar grant

The Port of Coupeville received some good news that will help get a solar project at the Greenbank Farm off the ground.

The Island County Council of Governments awarded the port a $25,000 grant offered through Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power Challenge Wednesday. The Island County Fair also applied for the money for a solar restroom project.

The grant money awarded to the port will pay for the infrastructure upgrades needed for its Greenbank project.

Port officials are working with a private firm, the Hastings Company, to establish a solar energy group where residents can purchase a share in the solar energy project at the Greenbank Farm. People who invest in the solar energy project will be funded by production incentives that were recently approved by the state Legislature.

Port commissioners will hire an engineer and work with residents to find a suitable location at the Greenbank Farm, said Jim Patton, executive director. Possible sites include near the Greenbank Farm commercial buildings, in a field north of the parking lot, or on farmland near Nettles Road. Patton said that the site selected should provide easy access for public viewing.

The project is expected to cost in excess of $130,000. In addition to the $25,000 grant, the port will chip in $8,000. The remainder will come from community investors in the solar association. Patton said $40,000 has been raised and another $35,000 has been pledged. Between other possible donors and help from more grants, he said there could be as much as $150,000 available for the project.

The solar panels will produce between 10 and 20 kilowatts of electricity, enough for 100 to 200 light-bulbs of 100 watts each. More panels could be added in the future.

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