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Learn about Solar Energy next Saturday

Have you ever wondered if solar power could be a viable power source here?

Believe it or not, several area homes have successfully harnessed solar energy and you have the opportunity soon to see for yourself how solar panels work in Grays Harbor.

Come to the Solar Home Tour & Energy Fair next Saturday, Aug. 26, in Aberdeen to get some of your questions answered and for an opportunity to tour four solar-powered homes.

We here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor are one of the sponsors of this first-time event that will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gateway Center lot, which is right next to the Tesla charging station at the corner of East Wishkah St. and F Street in Aberdeen.

Spear-headed by Liz Ellis, who has also successfully organized the Randall Street Garden, this free event will feature a variety of information about solar energy.

Owner of Harbor Solar, a company that advocates for more solar energy in the county, Liz neither sells nor installs solar panels. “I just want solar to be recognized as a viable alternative to getting power here.”

An Aberdeen homeowner with solar energy panels herself, Liz isn’t necessarily advocating people “getting off the grid,” but rather using solar energy to greatly supplement what the PUD supplies.

“By being connected to the grid, we get a buy-back through a program at the state level that purchases power back from solar users. If you’re not attached to the grid, you don’t get that,” she explained.


At next Saturday’s festival, a Solar 101 class will be offered in the morning and afternoon and a van tour of Aberdeen homes with solar energy will leave on the hour from the festival site. Liz’s house is one of those featured on the tour.

“The main point I’m trying to communicate is that solar power works here. We’d like to share our experiences as homeowners with solar power systems in Aberdeen,” she said.

Other features of the festival include exhibits by the South Sound Solar of Olympia, which sells and installs solar equipment; Generations Credit Union, which has a lot of experience financing solar energy systems, the United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA), which offers grants for solar energy; and Citizens for a Clean Harbor, a citizen’s group that advocates for keeping coal and oil from coming to the Port of Grays Harbor.

Fun activities for children – including free face painting and the South Sound Solar’s “Solar Rover” and a solar-powered dancing man – will add to the festivities.

And of course, we’ll be there too!


Many people in typically rainy, cloudy Grays Harbor think that solar power is a great idea but worry that it is not reliable or affordable. Historically it has been an expensive way to energize a house in the Pacific Northwest.

The good news is that technology has improved, prices have come down and some good programs have sprouted up which make solar energy an option – even in gray Grays Harbor.

“There is a time of the year, say from mid-November to mid-February, when the least solar energy is produced here and therefore the most is needed from the grid,” Liz said. ”However, at each house on the tour there will be a graph that shows the solar production of that system charted against the electrical use of that home. It will surprise folks that most of the time we are producing more energy than we are using!”

“I think the big surprise for some people is that we can generate power even when it’s raining,” she said.

While each system is different and each household uses energy differently, Liz says the system at her house will pay for itself in less than six years. “After that we’ll be saving money and making money.”

For more information about the festival or solar energy, contact Liz at


In other news, we wanted to remind you all – especially those who live on the south side of Aberdeen – that we are in the middle of conducting a random house survey in a neighborhood in South Aberdeen.

We have volunteers attempting to get feedback from most of the houses between the Chehalis Bridge and the Westport highway and from Boone to the river.

Please participate when a volunteer in a green “I Love Grays Harbor” shirt knocks on your door. The survey is available at our office and at the Aberdeen Dennis Company. We will have them at the Solar Fair, too. Thanks in advance!


First-time homebuyer? To get the best loans, get educated. Check out for your internet homebuyer education and housing counseling needs. We here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor will help you get it done. We may be able to help you finance your home purchase, too.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

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