Thanks to funding from two sources, four Wallowa County entities will have solar power soon.

Pacific Power has announced that a Blue Sky Energy Award in the amount of $54,000 will support the construction of a 30-kilowatt solar array at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds.

The roof-mounted system will go on the Cloverleaf Hall roof and will generate sufficient power to operate the entire fairgrounds complex. The hall will get a new roof in the process. With both a new roof and a new source of power, Cloverleaf Hall can look forward to vastly improved profitability, according to fairggrounds manager Randy Garnett. "It will generate all the power we need for the fairgrounds," Garnett said. The fair board expects to save over $4,000 per year in energy cost - not counting the savings in heating at Cloverleaf Hall that a new roof would provide.

The estimated completion date of the project is fall 2010.

The Oregon Department of Energy also has announced the award of three renewable energy grants for solar projects in Wallowa County: Joseph School district will receive $73,982 toward an approximately $295,000 project to install a solar array on the roof of the high school cafeteria. Federal and state tax credits will make up most of the cost difference.

"It is projected to reduce our electrical costs by about $5,200 per year," said Rhonda Shirley, superintendent of Joseph School District.

Enterprise School district also won an award of $73,920 for a solar project costing approximately $295,680. Again, federal and state tax credits will make up most of the difference. Enterprise hopes to put up the sort of solar array that can do double duty as a parking structure. Enterprise also expects to produce about $5,200 in power each year.

"We were awarded $49,280 for a solar project valued at about $197,120 for the Joseph Fire Department," said Joseph Fire Chief Tom Clevenger. The balance will be made up with federal and state tax credits. The solar power installation is expected to reduce power costs by approximately $3,500 per year. "We can certainly put that $3,500 to better use," said Clevenger. The receipt of the grant also helps make the Fire Department more attractive to other grantors, he said.

Renewable Energy Solutions of Enterprise put the grants together for the schools and fire department.

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