Solar incentives entice property owners

Owners urged to take advantage of cost savings

In addition to installing solar panels atop buildings, ground panels are another option for property owners, but can be more costly.

Credit: Courtesy of Greg Kinter
In addition to installing solar panels atop buildings, ground panels are another option for property owners, but can be more costly.

— A community wide workshop providing information about the installation and advantage of solar power took place at the Grandview Community Center last Wednesday.

Hosting the workshop was Yakima Valley Conference of Governments (YVCOG).

The organization is working with Spark Northwest to let people know about the various incentives available, including a grant program, REAP (Rural Energy for America Program), for which the application deadline is April 1.

“Spark Northwest can help you with the application process,” YVCOG Planning Manager Mike Shuttleworth said, noting the application is lengthy.

There is currently a solar federal tax credit available, as well as net metering and accelerated depreciation.

The state credit has expired, but proponents of solar projects are working with the Washington state legislature to remove a cap that was put in place a few years ago. If the cap is removed, that incentive will be restored for a limited time.

“The incentives are going to go away,” Shuttleworth warned.

Solar installation is being encouraged by the state Department of Commerce, and the set of workshops are part of a project for which Spark Northwest was given funding.

Working with YVCOG and Spark Northwest is Kinter Electric in Sunnyside.

Greg Kinter said his company can provide free site assessments to assist in determining the overall cost of an installation.

Interested property owners need only provide his company a copy of their power bill.

The next step is determining REAP eligibility by contacting Spark Northwest Program Manager Jill Eikenhorst.

After determining the final costs to the property owner, a contract is signed and Kinter can be scheduled for the installation.

“The more people we can get to buy at the same time, the better the savings,” Kinter said.

Solar power can pay for itself in fewer than 10 years, Solara Solar Consultant Syed Mujtaba said.

Systems can be designed to best benefit the property needs, and what is not used is sold into the power grid. The property owner gets credits and can sometimes receive money for credits not used in non-peak months.

Maintenance of solar panels is minimal, Shuttleworth said, noting a property owner typically needs to wash the panels a couple times each year “… unless you have a lot of birds.”

He said the lifespan of a system is 40 to 50 years, and a roof must be in good condition for the installation.

In addition to the panels themselves, Shuttleworth said an inverter box and new metering system are part of the overall system.

“Systems are becoming more affordable,” Mujtaba said, noting there are different variables to installation costs, including the slope of a roof as well as materials for the roof.

Those variables will be taken into account when the installer provides the site assessment.

Shuttleworth said 65 to 70 percent of the costs can be covered by the different incentives, making 2019 the best time to take advantage of cost savings available.

Kinter can be reached at 509-840-5300 for questions.

Another workshop is planned in the near future, with time, date and location information to be provided once it becomes available.


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