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The Island Way Campaign: 2024

island wayWhat 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 members stay up to speed on what’s going on, explain OPALCO’s plan for our future power supply, and give co-op members the tools they need to prepare for their own affordable and sustainable energy future.

One of the most important thing members can DO to help move San Juan County toward net-zero emissions and to keep your overall energy costs down is to electrify their heating and transportation loads.

What’s going on?

Driven by climate change, the energy industry is in a big transition to get carbon out of our power sources. It’ll affect us all and change how we use energy now and into the future. We’re facing drier and hotter weather patterns, intense wildfire seasons, political plays to control our regional power supply, capacity constraints on aging infrastructure causing rolling blackouts – and, of course, the rising cost of power.

What we’ve known as climate change for more than two decades is now a climate emergency.  Legislative mandates such as WA’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) have set out a timeline and concrete consequences for those actions. Legislative mandates require utilities to phase out coal by 2025, be greenhouse gas emission neutral by 2030, and by 2045 be 100% renewable energy for our electricity. These are ambitious goals that will requires lots of resources, money, and support to achieve.

Future power supply

OPALCO relies primarily on the Federal Columbia River Power System and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for our power supply which is 96% greenhouse gas free. These carbon free resources are going to be in higher demand as utilities face legislative mandates.  At the same time, sources of firm power – 24/7 sources like hydro and nuclear – will be in short supply as new intermittent renewable resources and new transmissions corridors are developed.

To future proof our power supply, OPALCO is applying for grants for to modernize our grid, increase local energy resilience, and provide low-income members access to the benefits of renewable energy.  Grants offer us the ability to get these critical projects up and running without putting the whole cost burden into member rates. Grants attached to OPALCO’s Community Solar projects have committed $1M (to date) to help fund OPALCO Energy Assistance program. OPALCO plans to continue this strategy as additional projects are built to make sure all members share in the benefits of renewable energy.

Strategic partnerships are also key to the plan. OPALCO’s industry partners such as the Pacific Northwest Generating Co-op (PNGC), Washington Rural Electric Assocation (WRECA) and the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) position the Co-op to have greater leverage in public policy, power purchasing, and access to favorable resources. We are all working together to navigate the transformation to a clean energy future.

What can you do?

Taking advantage of OPALCO’s tools and incentives for efficiency upgrades to your homes and businesses will position you to make wise use of electricity and help future proof your life in the islands. OPALCO has several programs to help you make those upgrades including rebates and financing options. It’s time to make the switch from fossil fuels to cleaner and greener electricity!

Switch It Up:

dhpOPALCO’s on-bill financing program pays for eligible projects up front and lets members finance projects over ten years for a 2% service fee. Members in good standing can finance up to $100,000 on their power bill!

Upgrade your home now and start saving. Eligible projects include:

  • Windows
  • Insulation
  • Solar and Battery Storage projects
  • Ductless Heat Pumps
  • Efficient appliances
  • Fiber Installation
  • EV Home Chargers

Rebates:

Get money back today to make your home or business more efficient! OPALCO passes through BPA Conservation Program rebates for weatherization, appliance and heating measures; and the Co-op funds electrification measures for ductless heat pumps and EV chargers. If you’re switching from fossil fuels to a super-efficient ductless heat pump, you may be able to stack a rebate onto your Switch it Up project.

Commercial:

For commercial accounts, there are special rebates and custom projects available through BPA’s Conservation Program. Contact energysavings@opalco.com to see what your project might be eligible for.  OPALCO also partners with Sustainable Connections to provide energy efficiency and solar audits to businesses and farms.

Community Solar:

In 2024, OPALCO will be installing the second community solar project. The Bailer Hill Microgrid Project is located on San Juan Island – but co-op members anywhere will be able to buy shares to offset their energy bills and start supporting local, renewable energy projects. Be among the first to know when the project will open by emailing solar@opalco.com.

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