The Island Way

What we share is stronger than what we face

The Island Way campaign was created for co-op members to have the tools to prepare for an energy efficient and affordable energy future

Our Energy Future

We need YOU, our co-op members, to work closely with OPALCO to help determine our energy future!

The energy world is changing dramatically due to climate impacts, carbon reduction legislation, and the transition toward renewable power. The goal of our state and nation is to transition away from fossil fuels and heat our homes and fuel our cars, trucks and ferries using electricity. This lofty goal is proving to be highly challenging.

The hydropower systems that have historically supplied most of the Pacific Northwest’s electricity are at capacity, coal plants in the region are scheduled to be shut down in the coming years and natural gas generation comes with a carbon-based financial penalty. Our dilemma is figuring out how to satisfy increased demand for electricity while our supply of carbon-free firm power is shrinking. As more coal plants shut down and are replaced with intermittent resources (solar and wind), energy blackouts are predicted.  We need reliable power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

Given our remote location, our best bet for clean and affordable firm power is to build renewable generation projects locally. One of our goals is to provide 4-hour back-up power in case the mainland grid goes down. However, our community will require about 40 renewable generation sites (like our site on Decatur) for this goal to be met. To be clear, achieving this goal requires a large influx in grant funding for us to build this many renewable generation projects AND strong member support.

As we build a local, renewable power supply on our beautiful islands, we face the cost of those projects, aesthetic trade-offs, and limited land for siting them. We need YOU, our co-op members, to work closely with OPALCO to help determine our energy future!

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Renewable Energy Future

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Bailer Hill Microgrid

Find out about the Bailer Hill Microgrid Project which will include Community Solar and battery storage on San Juan Island.

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Tidal Energy Pilot

Read about the OPALCO tidal energy generator feasibility project happening

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Decatur Island Microgrid

Take a look at OPALCO’s very first microgrid project on Decatur Island.

What will it mean in the coming years, to sustain our island communities? To recognize change and find our way through it? Where will we find the power we need? Only here, only in ourselves. This is the task that has come to us.

But we aren’t alone. We have the advantage of the most advanced energy technology on the planet—if we choose to seize it. We have a utility model that’s equal parts cooperation and independence—if we choose to trust it, and magnify its strengths. And we have a long-standing habit of thinking off the coast of the expected—if we choose to unite and use it to shape the future we want.

The Island Way

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Support Local Renewable Energy Projects

Earlier this year OPALCO requested changes to the Comprehensive Plan regarding land use designations and now those changes are being reviewed by the San Juan County Planning Commission. Members can … Read more
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OPALCO Awarded Phase 1 Funding to Explore Tidal Generator in Rosario Strait

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technolgies Office has competitively selected OPALCO as one of two organizations to explore tidal energy development for what OPALCO hopes will become the … Read more
island way

The Island Way Campaign: 2024

What we share is stronger than what we face Due to climate change, the energy world is rapidly shifting away fossil fuels. OPALCO started the Island Way campaign to help … Read more