Gateway: News

Power to the people: Solar project up for consideration

Solar power may be coming for Peninsula Light customers.

There will be a public hearing on a new solar power project downtown at the April 13 Gig Harbor City Council meeting.

The city is considering an interim ordinance that would allow a solar power demonstration at the Harbor History Museum. The project is a partnership between the museum and Peninsula Light. Panels would be placed on the roof of the museum off of Harborview drive.

A six-month interim ordinance would exempt the project from design and height standards. Solar panels are not directly addressed in city code, making it difficult to permit.

“Right now, it’s fairly difficult to get through the code,” said Lindsey Sehmel, senior planner with the city.

The 50-killowat system will be ten times the size of a solar panel installed on a home, said Johnathan White, of Peninsula Light.

It will give energy consumers access to green, solar energy by buying into the panel project.

The museum will save on its electric bill and use the project to provide educational opportunities. Jim Bellamy, also of Peninsula Light, said the panel will include an indoor kiosk to demonstrate the benefits of solar power.

The panels could save the museum about $4,000 a year, White estimated.

“Our main goal is to educate the community on forces of energy that aren’t present in Gig Harbor presently,” museum spokesperson Michelle Paulus said.

Another goal of the museum is to be greener when it comes to energy, she said.

Peninsula Light has invested $50,000, matching a grant from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The total cost of the project is $250,000, which will be funded by customers that choose to invest in solar power, White said.

Peninsula Light put together a smaller-scale project at the Key Peninsula Civic Center and has been considering community solar projects for a long time.

“I think it’s going to be a win-win for everybody,” White said, “because (solar power) is part of what the future is going to be.”

The city council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday (April 13) at the Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St.