Bringing Power to the People

By Chris Greacen

Member of the Islands Energy Coalition

The islands are making impressive gains in food locally produced. We can do the same with electricity, building clean renewable energy generation that is distributed across islanders’ homes, business, and farmlands.

We can take local, practical steps to increase our energy independence, alleviate global climate change, and lessen the need for nuclear power as well as demands on our region’s limited hydropower resources.

Since 1998, Member Owned Renewable Energy, OPALCO, members have opted in to the Green Power program, paying a little bit more each month on their power bills to support renewable energy that mostly came from off-island – mostly electricity generated by wind farms in Eastern Washington.

OPALCO’s supplier, the Bonneville Power Administration no longer offers this off-island renewable energy. OPALCO is proud to unveil a new generation of green power, Member Owned Renewable Energy, MORE. MORE collects member donations for green power, as before, but now all donations support local members generating renewable energy and are interconnected to OPALCO’s system.

Here’s how it works. If you have a sunny roof, a windy field or a mountain stream, you can invest in solar, wind, or a micro-hydropower generator on your property.

At the end of each year you will receive a check from OPALCO reflecting a premium payment for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of renewable energy your system produced that year. Initially the premium payment is $0.20/kWh.

For example, a household that this year installs a 3 kilowatt solar electric system that generates 3,000 kWh per year will receive a check for $600 each year ($0.20 x 3,000) for the next 10 years from OPALCO under the MORE program

All funds for this program are from OPALCO customers who opt to make a voluntary monetary contribution on their monthly power bill to support local energy production by MORE generators.

MORE contributions are guaranteed to have an impact, the MORE program distributes funds when electricity is actually generated, incentivizing efficient, effective renewable energy installations.

OPALCO board member Winnie Adams said of the MORE program, “We have the culmination of a great policy from a really thoughtful committee that did a very sound community process, and is a bold continuation of OPALCO’s long-running support of local renewable energy generators. “

If you’re already part of OPALCO’s Green Power program, you will be rolled into the program automatically, unless you opt out by July 31st. If you’re not part of Green Power program and would like to be, please contact OPALCO to sign up. You can opt into full participation by signing up for a four-cent premium per kilowatt hour for all energy consumed on their monthly bills.

Or you may sign up for one, two, four, eight or 10 participation blocks per month, costing $4 a block. The more people that sign up, the more local generation we can support.

“My wife and I have been 100 percent Green Power subscribers for the past 5 years — and I’ve been happy to pay the additional amount since I’d like to see this program be stronger,” said Bruce Crebs, a Lopez island woodworker, “but I really think really everyone should pay more for green power because clean energy benefits everybody. The cheapest power for today is not the cheapest power 10-20 years from now. The utilities are looking out for the long-term interest of the public, and with that in mind I think they – and all of us — should be strong supporters of clean energy.”

For those interested in generating renewable electricity, this is the best time in history to do so.

OPALCO makes it easy to interconnect and ‘spin your meter backwards’ by using