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"Businesses utilize Solarize Pendleton"

Five local businesses in Pendleton are installing solar arrays thanks to the Solarize Pendleton program.

By Owen R. Smith
East Oregonian

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The weather this spring might not have residents in Eastern Oregon thinking about the sun, but that hasn’t stopped five local businesses from taking advantage of Solarize Pendleton’s new business program.

Solarize Pendleton, part of the city’s effort to promote sustainable energy, already helped get 56 solar energy units onto the roofs of local homes in 2010 alone.

Now, the program has been expanded to include businesses, offering a combination of loans and tax incentives to ultimately lower the final cost of a unit by about 95 percent.

“We were really just researching whether it would be feasible and still  affordable (to continute the program),” said Pendleton RARE student Lindsey Hardy, who has helped lead the charge for solar power. “We started looking at it, and the business side of things had the best incentives for doing solar.”

In 2010, there were a few businesses that had buildings assessed but none pulled the trigger on getting a system installed. So far this year, the East Oregonian, Neighbors Bed and Breakfast, Vision Source, the Malarkey Building and Mac Levy’s Edward Jones building have all signed up.

The city provides a one-year loan for half the cost of a system, and is committed to loan out about $215,000 to the five businesses. The deal is designed to work out so businesses get their tax credits back at the same time their loan is due.

“Because of the incentives, some of the business systems that we’re looking at are comparable in price to residential systems,” Hardy said.

The EO is getting a $111,795 loan on a 40-kilowatt system; Neighbors B and B will receive a $14,875 loan for about 14 kilowatts; and Vision Source is getting about $16,125 to put in a 25-kilowatt unit. 

The Malarkey Building is signed up for a 28,325 loan and Edward Jones will get a $43,625 loan.

“It's been exciting. It's been fairly easy. I've gotten all the information I've needed from everybody. The process has been pretty fast,” said Vision Source office manager Kori Lani, who added that work has already begun. “I think the process is starting pretty quick and we can start saving money.”

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