Community

Langley joins the push to promote renewable energy

The city of Langley is jumping into Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power Challenge with an electric meter and both feet.

“The only challenge will be to decide where to put the solar panels,” a confident Mayor Paul Samuelson said.

PSE announced it will apply $25,000 toward a renewable-energy project on Whidbey Island if enough customers increase their participation in the company’s green-power program.

Currently, 650 Whidbey residences and businesses are taking part. PSE wants to increase that number to 1,000 by Aug. 31.

The cities of Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor have agreed to a friendly competition to work toward that goal by committing

100 percent on behalf of their own city halls to the program, and by urging additional city businesses and residents to take part.

About 120 households — 20 percent of those in Langley — already are signed up for the program. Langley’s goal is to increase that to 300.

The city itself has agreed to pay double the monthly electric bill incurred by city hall, with half going toward renewable energy.

City hall’s monthly bill varies seasonally from about $40 to $100, said Linda Irvine, Langley community resource conservation manager.

“The green-power challenge is a chance for us to vote with our dollars for clean, renewable energy,” Irvine said. “These programs are good for Whidbey pocketbooks and the environment.”

Under the program, electricity customers can pay an additional amount, from $4 to a 100 percent of their monthly bills, to go exclusively toward the production of clean, renewable energy from PSE sources such as solar, wind and biomass.

The program gives customers a way to guarantee that the amount of energy they use is matched in the PSE grid with electricity from renewable energy sources, said company spokeswoman Rebekah Anderson.

The typical residential contribution is between $4 and $10 a month, Anderson said.

When the goal of 1,000 new participants in the program is achieved, PSE will provide $25,000 toward a community solar project on Whidbey.

A solar project is best adapted to the island, and the Whidbey Island Council of Governments will determine the nature of the project and where it will be located, Anderson said.

The project must be visible, accessible and educational, she added.

Irvine said that the green-power challenge doesn’t have to mean higher electric bills. She said simple conservation techniques can reduce a bill sufficiently to more than offset a green-power contribution.

“This is a way to show our leadership in moving ahead with green power,” Irvine told the Langley City Council.

“I think we should lead,” Councilwoman Rene Neff agreed.

PSE also is offering home-energy evaluations as part of a pilot program to determine where residents can save on electricity, Anderson said.

Open to customers who heat with electricity, the customized HomePrint evaluation costs $95. It will include a major review of systems such as central heating and air conditioning, water heating, weatherization, lighting, appliances and home electronics.

Energy-efficient light bulbs, pipe insulation and low-flow shower heads will be installed for no additional charge, and the cost will include a blower door test to measure air leakage, and thermal imaging to measure temperature differences, Anderson said.

Once the analysis is completed, customers will receive a report showing their home-energy usage, and energy-saving suggestions.

For information about the green-power challenge and the home evaluations, call PSE’s Freeland office at 331-3060, or PSE Energy Advisors at 1-800-562-1482.

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