Solar comes of age in Edmonds

Dan Fine stands next to the state-of-the-art electric meter that measures electricity flowing both in and out of their home. When the Fine's photovoltaic system is producing more electricity than is needed to meet their home power demand, the surplus flows back into Snohomish PUD's system, earning them credit on their electric bill. At the time this photo was taken, power was flowing back to the PUD. Here Dan raises his thumb to show the direction of power flow.

Dan Fine stands next to the state-of-the-art electric meter that measures electricity flowing both in and out of their home. When the Fine’s photovoltaic system is producing more electricity than is needed to meet their home power demand, the surplus flows back into Snohomish PUD’s system, earning them credit on their electric bill. At the time this photo was taken, power was flowing back to the PUD. Here Dan raises his thumb to show the direction of power flow.

Edmonds residents Dan and Kim Fine are blazing a trail into Edmonds’ future.

Like the pioneers who settled Edmonds, they have a vision for what this community can be. But unlike the settlers of the late 19th century, that future is not in cutting forests and milling shingles. Instead the Fines are forging a sustainable future fueled by renewable solar energy.

“We got into this in a big way about four years ago,” said Dan. That’s when the couple attended a solar information session sponsored by Solarize Washington, and came away with a vision of how they could transform their home and lifestyle around solar energy.

One of the first things they learned is that solar energy has come a long way from the rooftop hot water panels of 1980s and 1990s. Today’s residential solar system are based on modern, efficient photovoltaic cells and controlled with sophisticated computer systems.

Once they decided to take the plunge, the Fines contacted A&R Solar, a company that specializes in helping people set up state-of-the-art residential solar systems.

These panels on the roof of the Fine's home have a combined capacity of 5 kilowatts.  When the sun is shining, that's more than enough to run their entire home with enough left over to sell back to the PUD and significantly reduce their electric bill.

These panels on the roof of the Fine’s home have a combined capacity of 5 kilowatts. When the sun is shining, that’s more than enough to run their entire home with enough left over to sell back to the PUD and significantly reduce their electric bill.

“We help with the design of the system and getting the right equipment,” said Anders Hellum-Alexander of A&R Solar. “But that’s just the beginning. We also help each customer navigate the array of financial programs ranging from Federal income tax credits to rebates to utility credits to state and local incentives. A customer’s mix of benefits depends on where they live, their local utility, and even where they purchase their equipment. But no matter what particular programs apply to you, you’ll realize significant savings that will pay for your system in as little as five years.”

Dan and Kim’s system consists of an array of rooftop photovoltaic panels rated at 5 kilowatts. When the sun is shining and the panels are cranking out the juice, they can meet their entire home power demand with some left over. The left over power goes into the Snohomish County PUD grid under a net metering agreement whereby the utility takes one kilowatt hour off the bill for every one that the Fine’s put in.

Modern solar systems come with sophisticated monitoring and control systems that the homeowner can access anywhere there's an Internet connection.  This page sums up the total benefit over the four years the Fines have been running their system, during which they generated an impressive 13.5 megawatt hours of clean solar energy while keeping 9.31 tons of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere.

Modern solar systems come with sophisticated monitoring and control systems that the homeowner can access anywhere there’s an Internet connection. This page sums up the total benefit over the four years the Fines have been running their system, during which they generated an impressive 13.5 megawatt hours of clean solar energy while keeping 9.31 tons of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere.

“Last month we would have paid almost $240 dollars for our electricity,” said Dan as he held up his recent bill. “But with the credits we only paid $34 and change.”

Kim’s favorite part of going solar is charging her Nissan Leaf electric car with energy from the rooftop photovoltaic panels.

Kim Fine's favorite benefit of their residential solar system is the ability to charge her Nissan Leaf electric car with solar power. "It's just the greatest feeling knowing that I'm driving around powered by sunshine," she said.

Kim Fine’s favorite benefit of their residential solar system is the ability to charge her Nissan Leaf electric car with solar power. “It’s just the greatest feeling knowing that I’m driving around powered by sunshine,” she said.

“I can fully charge my car in about two hours,” she said. “And there is no way to describe the great feeling I get just knowing that I’m driving around town on solar power.”

“We can talk about the monetary savings, but the real satisfaction has nothing to do with money,” said Dan. “It’s knowing we’re taking positive action to reduce our carbon footprint and move ourselves and our community toward a sustainable future. Simply stated, it’s the right thing to do.”

Learn more about how to solarize your home and sign up for a workshop and information session at the Solarize Washington website.

– Story and photos by Larry Vogel

Thinking about putting solar on your roof? Join Solarize South County for an open house Saturday, Aug. 30, 9 a.m.-noon, at 23025 74th Ave. W., Edmonds Solar experts will be there to answer questions and you can see a system live. This is a low-key way to learn more about why now is the best time to invest in solar for your home or business.

If you like what you are reading, please consider a weekly, monthly or one-time voluntary donation of any amount to support our work. You can donate via this link.

6 Comments

  1. Thank you Kim & Dan!

    To learn more about investing in solar and to save money, join us at the next Solarize South County Workshop!

    Webinar- TODAY, Thursday, August 28th, 12-1pm – register here: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/344048926
    Workshop- Saturday, September 13, 10-11:30am, Edmonds City Hall, Brackett Room
    Webinar- Tuesday, September 23, 12-1pm, Online

    Register for a workshop or webinar here: http://solarizewa.org/registration

  2. Love the article, thanks for sharing Kim and Dan. Hearing the experience from someone you know really helped move me from the “maybe someday” to “maybe now”. Time to register for a workshop!

  3. As I write this, folks are up on my Edmonds roof installing OUR solar panels! My husband and I are really looking forward to getting the system up and running (we have one electric car to plug into the system). I encourage everyone to look into the possibility of solar power; the incentives have really been enhanced, the systems are really slick, and we calculate the system will be paid for in five years. Heck of a deal!

  4. amazing!!!!!!!!

  5. More about solar: “STREAMERS,” for the smoke plume that comes from BIRDS that IGNITE in midair flying over Obama’s Solar Plants http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/08/18/california-weighing-bird-deaths-from-concentrated-solar-plants-as-it-considers/

    • Really? “Obama’s Solar Plants”
      I thought this site had a moderator approving posted messages!

Leave a Reply