Going door-to-door for solar power


 Local resident Shauna Sylvester and parks district chair Stephen Falk spent the month of March giving presentations to local groups and taxing districts asking for them to support a solar grant application for a program being offered by the Washington state Department of Commerce.

The grant program was announced in late February with an application deadline of April 5. The community decarbonization program targets vulnerable and at-risk communities. Sylvester is the organizer of Resilient Point Roberts: Going Solar and has teamed up with the parks district to pursue the grant opportunity to fund a feasibility study for solar backup power for the Gulf Road community center, the adjacent Point Roberts Library, the firehall, water district offices and health clinic on Benson Road. Trinity Church which is used as a shelter during emergencies would also be included in the feasibility study.

Although the program does not require matching financial contributions, community investment is considered advantageous. The parks board has committed $5,000 while the fire district has provided a $10,000 contribution. Speaking at the water district’s monthly commissioner meeting on March 12, Sylvester projected the cost of the study would be between $100,000 to $150,000.

“Our ask is three-fold,” Sylvester said. “Do you want the feasibility study done on the [water district] building and the reservoir, because that’s a potential setting for, according to [consultants] Cascadia Renewables, probably the best setting of all in Point Roberts.” The other two requests included a letter of support and possible funding.

Water district chair Scott Hackleman expressed reservations on the practicality of using solar backup power for the district. “I mean, to put a solar array on the building just so we can keep the lights on, it would seem a little overkill. The only really vital thing is to provide water. We’re not responsible for keeping the office open if there’s a power outage but we are responsible to provide water. That involves some very high energy pumps, valves, and equipment which I doubt seriously that solar would be able to provide. … So, I’m not convinced that just because it’s feasible means it’s necessary,” he said.

Sylvester’s suggestion that the reservoir property be used for a solar panel array raised questions as to allowable uses on that site. Regardless, the board authorized submitting a letter of support for the grant program.

Other organizations who have submitted letters of support include PRCAC, Circle of Care, the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association, the fire district, library and Trinity Church. Other groups such as PAWS, and PREP have indicated they intend on submitting letters.

Grant recipients are expected to receive word by the end of May. Should Point Roberts prove successful, an initial community consultation will be held in July with the study and workshops taking place in



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