Sunshine system debuts Earth Day

McComb Gardens proudly displays its commitment to environmental sustainability on the roof of its storefront. This spring the Sequim nursery threw the switch on a 4.23-kW grid-tied solar electric power system and now 70 percent of the business is powered by the sun, as reflected by reduced electric bills.

“Our plants grow from the sun — we should get our electricity from the sun, too!” says co-owner Jane Stewart, who along with her husband, Neil Burkhardt, has operated McComb Gardens since 1998.

Their solar electric (aka photovoltaic or PV) power system makes its public debut at the Sequim Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 17.

The nursery, 751 McComb Road, will be open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. that day, offering tours of the new solar array and highlighting eco-friendly native and ornamental plants that are disease resistant, wildlife friendly and chemical free.

The system cost McComb Gardens just less than $30,000. Stewart and Burkhardt made use of a $15,000 loan program through First Federal and the Clallam Public Utility District. A 30-percent federal income tax credit reduced the system cost by about $8,000, as did a $2,115 cash rebate from the PUD. Annual production incentive payments through 2020 from the utility, plus annual electricity bill savings, will provide about $1,000 per year to help offset the loan payments.

After the loan, the tax credits and the PUD rebate are calculated, the first-year out-of-pocket cost for the $30,000 system is about $3,600.

“That’s less than a used car,” said Burkhardt. “This is a priority for us — we’ve just got to do it.”

“Our goal is to inspire others to go solar — and for like-minded customers to buy their plants from us because we did.”

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