On Oct. 5, SolWest solar home tour joins U.S. events

Solar Visionary Christopher Dymond poses with his Solar Pioneer project in Salem, the first state capitol building in the country to have solar power. Contributed photo

JOHN DAY - Americans in more than 100 communities in 42 states will join the 2002 Solar Home Tour on Oct. 5 to check out the newest designs, products and construction techniques that create sustainable homes and businesses that are solar, comfortable, healthy, energy-efficient and affordable.

Oregon's home tours will take place in Portland, Salem, Eugene, the Rogue Valley, Klamath Falls, Central Oregon and John Day.

The Eastern Oregon Tour of Solar Homes will meet at Grant County Fairgrounds at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. The day will begin with a two-hour class titled "Solar and Wind Power: where do I start?", continue with a picnic lunch and question-and-answer period, then move to a hosted tour of area solar homes and businesses.

In April 2002, Oregon became the first state in the nation whose capitol building generates electricity from the sun. The system that makes this happen consists of 60 Shell Solar SP140 panels mounted on the roof below the 23-foot-tall Oregon Pioneer statue. The solar electric system generates enough electricity each year to power two very efficient homes or about three times the energy used to power the lights that shine on the statue.  Noteworthy is that this project was paid for by the buyers of Portland General Electric's "Clean Wind" power and installed by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and IEC journeymen electricians and members of the Oregon Solar Energy Solar Energy Industry Association. No general fund dollars were spent on this project. In total more than 40 volunteers participated and provided materials and labor.

A recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ranked Oregon as the 12th most cost effective location in the nation to install solar electric power. The primary reason for this is that Oregonians appreciate our solar energy and would rather invest in our homes and communities energy systems than send our energy dollars out of state. The combination of tax credits, net metering, green power programs, long sunny summer days and consumer interest make Oregon a pioneer in this technology.

The 2002 statewide tour is sponsored by non-profit organizations, the Oregon Office of Energy, scores of progressive Oregon businesses and dozens of volunteers. The event would not be possible without homeowners who open their homes. For more information, contact Jennifer Barker at 575-3633 or info@solwest.org.

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