3 Questions: Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO)

Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors and organizations in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and these experts answer them. This month, we learn about energy efficiency issues with Krista Bouchey, communications specialist with Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO). 

Q1. Utility companies often offer attractive rebate incentives for improving energy efficiency. Can you tell us about some of your current incentives? 

OPALCO offers an extensive list of rebates, including super-efficient ductless heat pumps, windows, insulation, appliances, and EV charging stations. We also have a great program called Switch It Up!, which offers on-bill financing for some of these energy efficiency projects, including fiber to your home. These projects save members money, increase comfort, reduce carbon usage, and drive up the value of their homes. 

Q2. Is it easy to apply for a rebate, and how often do the rebate incentive programs change? 

Our rebate applications are super easy: apply online at www.opalco.com/rebates or email energysavings@opalco.com. The rebate program gets updated each year (January), but most of the same rebates are available each year. There are also two “fuel switching” rebates: one for ductless heat pumps and an EV charger incentive that rewards switching away from fossil fuels. These rebates are available as funds last each year.  

Q3. Does it make sense to install solar on my home? 

For those who have a good location, putting solar on your home can help offset the cost of energy use, but we recommend a solar assessment to determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of your site. There are many different factors to consider, including orientation to the sun, shading/tree trimming, the type of roof you have—as well as cost, maintenance, and return on investment. Another option is to purchase a piece of OPALCO’s next Community Solar project: the payback is faster, and you don’t have to manage the equipment on your property. Participants get credits on their monthly power bill based on the solar production of the project—you can invest a little or a lot and offset your energy use. We expect to have a project coming out in 2021—stay in the loop by emailing solar@opalco.com

BONUS Q: Do you have a favorite energy efficiency story or lesson you can share? 

We’re super inspired by the cool projects our members are doing. This is one of my favorites: https://energysavings.opalco.com/the-most-family-an-efficiency-oasis-on-orcas-island/ 


Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) is a member-owned, non-profit cooperative utility providing energy services to San Juan County since 1937. Delivered to the islands by way of submarine cables, our mostly hydro-electric power is generated by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). OPALCO distributes energy to 20 islands in the archipelago and employs approximately 50 people in the county. Co-op member-owners elect a seven-member Board of Directors, who set policy, rates and direction. Elections are held each year prior to our Annual Meeting. The OPALCO wholly-owned subsidiary, Rock Island Communications, provides broadband Internet services in San Juan County. For more information, visit https://www.opalco.com/

A big “thanks” to Krista for her responses!
If you have questions or comments about energy efficiency issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).