Opinion

Editorial: Greenbank solar project helpful

The Greenbank Farm is an excellent location for a solar power demonstration project now in the works.

It’s a model proposal, backed by a private company called Island Community Solar with support from the Port of Coupeville, which owns the property on which it will be sited, and made possible in part by a grant from Puget Sound Energy.

This spring, one or two solar panels could appear where once loganberries grew in abundance. Eventually, the solar array may grow to take up one acre of the 500-acre, publicly owned farm.

Objections have been raised that the solar panels are too prominently placed and may be an eyesore, but we don’t see it that way. Numerous homes on Whidbey Island are outfitted with solar panels but the public can’t get to them. The Greenbank solar project will be open to everyone, solar information will be available, and presumably contact information for those who can help a homeowner install solar panels. Even in cloudy Puget Sound, enough solar energy reaches the earth to make solar power an alternative to heating a house entirely with electricity from dams or coal, particularly when that power is underwritten by state and federal credits and can be sold back to Puget Sound Energy for use on the grid. Eventually tax support should be withdrawn, but for now it’s a good way to get solar projects off the drawing boards and into action.

Farm managers should also once again consider a wind power generation project. People who objected to the sight of a wind tower on the farm won the day several years ago, but times have changed. One or two windmills will help attract people to the farm, show them how wind power can work, and encourage the use of wind power on Whidbey Island which, everyone agrees, has more than its share of wind.

The century-old farm once famous as a prosperous dairy and then as the nation’s largest loganberry producer should turn more to energy production. Real farmers grow what it takes to make ends meet, and in Greenbank it’s time to grow some energy. Maybe Greenbank Farm Electric Wine might turn out to be big seller in the wine shop.

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