"A lighter, brighter future for Bayview Hall"
June 25, 2008 · Updated 12:43 PM
"Gathered around a solar panel at the Clinton home of Jay Freundlich, Malcomb Ferrier, Wendy Ferrier, John Raabe, Laurie Keith, Fred Geisler, and Jay Freundlich discuss a plan to power the Bayview Community Hall with energy from the sun.Jim Larsen / staff photoPerhaps as early as next year, South Whidbey folks will be able to say they have a place to go where it is sunlit all year long. Night and day.That place is Bayview Community Hall. For the past two months, a group of South Whidbey people interested in sustainable living have been making plans to power Bayview Hall with solar panels. Lori Keith, a member of the Bayview Community Alternative Power Project (CAPP), said last week that powering the old hall with sunlight is more about education than it is about saving energy in a single building.Keith and other CAPP members are part of a local movement promoting natural capitalism, a social theory under which people innovate to use fewer resources, but at the same time further the economy. Using Paul Hawken's book Natural Capitalism as its starting point, at least a few dozen islanders interested natural capitalism are holding regular discussion groups.It's the new economy we need to go to, Keith said.In the case of Bayview Hall, CAPP's goal is to increase awareness about how much energy people waste, and how more energy can be created without burning fossil fuels.The solar panels, which the group plans to mount on the hall's roof, will power the hall's lighting, its refrigerator, heat blowers and other electrical devices. Unlike older solar designs, the Bayview panels will not feed power into batteries. The electricity will run through a special electric meter hooked into Puget Sound Energy wires, which connect to the electric grid that powers homes and businesses all over the region. When the solar panels are collecting solar energy, the meter will run backward. When electrical power is used at the hall, it will run forward. With luck, the panels will produce more electricity than the hall needs.At the same time, CAPP members want to replace all of the hall's lightbulbs with bulbs that use 65 percent less energy than the current ones. Doing that will make the hall an even more efficient building.Duke LeBaron, Bayview Community Hall board of directors president, said the CAPP project has the full support of the board. However, CAPP has to do all the fund-raising on its own. The hall has no funds to dedicate to the solar project.LeBaron said he is an enthusiastic booster of the CAPP proposal.No question about it, he said.At present, Bayview Hall pays about $45 a month for electricity. With new, energy-efficient lighting and solar power generation, LeBaron said, that figure should drop to zero. The project will tie in with a larger sustainability effort in the entire Bayview Corner area. Goosefoot Community Fund, a private, nonprofit organization, is currently in the first phase of its redevelopment of the the area. As it continues to renovate the Bayview Cash Store and build a new building for the Velocity Bikes shop, Goosefoot will install solar and wind electricity generators that will provide much of the power for the area's commercial needs.The only thing standing in CAPP's way at the moment is money. Still early in their planning process, the group's members have not yet priced out the equipment they will need. The solar panels alone will have to cover more than 1,000 square feet of rooftop. Jay Freundlich, a Clinton area resident who powers his home with solar energy and who has given some technical assistance to CAPP, said his small, two panel system will not pay for itself for a decade.In light of this, CAPP is starting to raise money. The group will conduct fund raisers and will apply in the near future for a $12,000 grant that could fund a portion of the equipment purchase. "