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|Tuesday, August 03, 2010|
The solar co-op effort, which originated in Portland in the summer of 2009, made its next stop in Salem yesterday with a goal of bringing solar energy to 100 area residences. The initiative is part of a grass-roots model that provides bulk-pricing to homeowners who want to install solar panels on their homes.
Community-organized programs that bring solar energy to homeowners at a reduced price have popped up throughout the state over the last year. Salem is the fifth community to organize a project; the others are scattered in Portland, Beaveton and Pendleton. The Solarize Salem program is a special project of the Salem Creative Network, a nonprofit that works for social change within the community.
The incentive to go solar as a group is that the organizers do a lot of the grunt work. The group coordinators find a contractor and complete the bidding process and home owners reap the benefits of a rate that can save them 10% to 30% on their system. The cheaper rate in combination with federal and state tax incentives makes solar much more affordable. The Statesman Journal reported that a round of solar projects through Solarize Southeast Portland would have cost on average $20,000, but through the program the cost averaged $3,000 to $4,000.
Solarize Salem launched their program Monday morning at the state capitol with a goal of installing 100 photovoltaic systems to area residences. As part of the program homeowners must attend a free workshop to learn about solar options and submit an application choosing between two discounted systems: the buy-local option with modules made from Hillsboro-based SolarWorld at $5.50 per watt, or the value package priced at $5.35 per watt that uses components built in Asia. The difference is up to $500.
The Salem program gives consumers more choice than what’s been offered in other cities. Other groups have organized a deal with one contractor to provide the product to all interested parties. Ross Swartzendruber, the Salem coordinator, decided to go against advice from past Solarize projects to provide more options for homeowners.
“We know consumers like choice and being able to choose between two different contractors is a huge advantage,” said Swartzendruber. “One of our main goals through Solarize Salem is to build the local infrastructure for solar energy here locally and we thought the more contractors that we use the more possibility [the contractors] would hire locally.”
The Salem project also managed to get each firm to donate one 3-kilowatt SolarWorld system to a school within the Salem-Keizer School District. Swartezendruben hopes consumers will choose the Hillsboro SolarWorld panels, with component parts made in Bend, despite the cost difference.
“We are very interested to see who chooses the Oregon product, but we provided a value package because the Asian components are a cheaper price and we know is a sensitive market,” said Swartzendruben. “To let the consumer have a choice is the best way to go about it.”
Solar projects have skyrocketed in Oregon since 2008. This year alone there have been 336 residential solar installations, and there are at least another 180 in the works, according to The Statesmen Journal.
Previous solar projects have been criticized for having an unfair bidding process that handed all the business to one big-time contractor. In an effort to combat that criticism Salem chose to give two separate Portland contractors a bid: Solar City and RS Energy. Solar City already recieved bids from the Solarize NE Portland and Solar Beaverton, while RS Energy, a smaller contractor, had entered the bidding process before, but hadn’t received a bid until Solarize Salem.
In order to land Salem, RS Energy teamed up with several sub-contractors and fine-tuned their proposal to stay competitive.
“We think that one of our strongest offerings is that we offer a team of folks and not just one installer, so that allows us to run multiple crews to get through folks that are interested quicker,” said David Richards at RS Energy. “We’ve actually received a lot of clients in the Portland area who considered the Solarize programs but realized that it was taking up to three months sometimes for a contractor just to come out and do an evaluation when we can get out in a matter of days.”
Richards thinks the contract will allow them to add at least one employee to the staff depending on how quickly demand rises and possibly add additional positions across the board later.
Despite previous reports that solar modules from companies such as SolarWorld are backlogged until November or December both Swartzendruben and Richards say the product is ready and Solarize Salem will have access without interruption. Swartzendruben said participants could expect installations this week if all goes to plan.
Jessica Hoch is an online reporter for Oregon Business.
Friday, May 08, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Are we too quick to diagnose corruption?
Thursday, April 23, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
On April 1 I attended a forum at the University of Portland on the sharing economy. The event featured panelists from Lyft and Airbnb, as well as Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. Asked about the impact of tech-driven sharing economy services. Hales said the new business models are reshaping the landscape. “But,” he added, “I don’t pretend to understand how a lot of this [technology] works.”
Thursday, April 02, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Are mornings the most productive part of the day? We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER AND EILEEN GARVIN
A power lunch at Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
The right sunglasses can protect your eyes and look cool at the same time. This being the 21st century, select shades are socially conscious, too. Portland brand Shwood uses wood and other natural materials and manufactures locally. Founded by Ann Sacks, the brand Fetch dedicates a portion of its profits to animal welfare. But whether you choose classic tortiseshell or aviator chic, please, shed the sunglasses when you walk in the door — and, of course, at night.
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Oregon-based Environments helps companies create inspired workspaces. “Simply put, we help companies future-proof their workspaces,” says Chris Corrado, president. Since 1988,Environments has witnessed firsthand the changing landscape of business. Native Portlander and Environments founder Corrado says, “We help our clients navigate the complex realities of the workplace today and plan for their future in a very mindful, strategic way. We think of ourselves as their partners in the process.”
One hundred years ago, the Willamette River might easily have been mistaken for a sewer. Unchecked industrial activity and decades of pollution made it unrecognizable compared to the clean river that now flows north for 187 miles from Eugene through the center of Portland.
Sussman Shank LLP served as lead counsel for both the sale of 9 assisted living, memory care, and independent living campuses in Washington, Oregon, and California to a publicly-traded REIT, and the acquisition of 11 single-tenant net lease properties. This transaction was unique because it included both the sale of licensed senior housing facilities and a complicated 1031 tax deferred exchange transaction.
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) will be presenting its third annual Entrepreneurial Summit on Friday, June 5 at Castaway in Portland, Oregon.
On June 13th Mayor Charlie Hales will attend nonprofit organization Dream Change’s inaugural Love Summit and will introduce one of its keynote speakers, Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency.