Energy Adviser: You can use solar arrays even here

There are many ways to reduce your energy expense and lower your carbon footprint, but nothing can beat the energy savings of a solar array, even in the cloudy Pacific Northwest. Solar panels offer immediate energy savings but require a hefty upfront cost. If you’re thinking of going solar, here are some important points to consider.

Unlike many other electric utilities, Clark Public Utilities is a proud supporter of customer-owned solar arrays. From the utility’s perspective, solar has several benefits: It offers customers a reliable, money-saving and environmentally friendly energy resource, and it benefits the utility by easing stress on the local energy grid during periods of peak demand.

“We always encourage customers to do their research, but there are so many different information sources out there — oftentimes with vague or conflicting ideas — that it can be difficult to make sense of it all,” said Clark Public Utilities key accounts manager Bart Hansen. “So we want customers to know that we’re here for them, with unbiased information from a local perspective.

“Even though solar panels have been around for some time, there are still many common misconceptions about it,” Hansen added. “For example, you often hear that Southwest Washington doesn’t get enough sunlight for solar panels to be worth the investment. On the whole, that’s not the case, but the amount of power an array will generate will depend on a property’s specific characteristics.”

Investing in solar is similar to any major home improvement. There will be many benefits and likely a bump-up in your standard of living, but not without a significant investment. The exact cost will vary from one home or business to the next, but it will likely run from $15,000 to $45,000.

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