Sun provides Whidbey power | Editorial
July 22, 2011 · Updated 2:06 PM
Sunshine will never by the primary source of electrical power on Whidbey Island, but at least we’re getting started on harvesting the sun’s rays.
Solar power is so much cleaner and neater than alternative forms of energy that it’s mind boggling. No huge turbines powered by gas, coal, nuclear energy or water controlled by enormous dams is needed. Instead, solar panels installed in an open field or on a roof can convert the energy of the sun directly into electricity and pump it into the grid that supports us all, electrically speaking.
Whidbey Island has long be home to tinkerers playing with their own solar power systems. Some have succeeded admirably, using solar, batteries and conservation to get off the grid entirely. There’s great satisfaction in knowing Puget Sound Energy won’t be sending you a bill. But for most of us, what solar power we use will come from small projects like the one just completed at the Greenbank Farm, where a local company called Island Community Solar collected $210,000 to install 132 solar panels, which were welcomed by the community in a ceremony held last week. Cost of the power is of course much higher than regular power, but a rebate from the state will help pay back the investors over a few years. Government spending is under scrutiny these days, but most people believe helping solar power get off the ground is a good use of government funds. We might be looking 20 or more years down the road before solar is a major energy producer, but we have to start somewhere or accept a destiny of dirty oil largely controlled by oligarchies. That’s no way for a free country to exist.
Whidbey Telecom on South Whidbey is making its own contribution to solar progress with its new retail building in Freeland. The south-facing roof consists entirely of solar panels, some 50 to 60 of them. This modernistic building should serve as an example to other builders: Include solar in your new project, as every little bit helps overcome our dependence on oil and nuclear alternatives.
All this solar activity, much of it done with the help of a local business called Whidbey Sun & Wind, points to a brighter future for Whidbey Island. Solar will provide local jobs, help our country end its dependence on foreign oil and make our environment cleaner. Thanks to these efforts, the future is beginning to look brighter and cleaner on Whidbey Island.