21 Mar Interview with Commercial Solar Customer Michelle Walker, Coyote Moon

michelle_16Sundog Solar pays a visit to commercial customer Michelle Walker, owner of Coyote Moon, a much beloved spot, where Belfast residents continue, after 26 years, to enjoy the most serene shopping experience imaginable. It’s always a pleasure to see what is new- today my eye alights on some beautiful limited edition bird prints, maybe because of the longing for spring after a long winter.

Sundog Solar installed a 12.75 kW PV system for Coyote Moon. This PV solar system,  comprised of forty-one 250 Watt Canadian solar modules (10,250 Watts)  generates electricity to power the heat pump (also installed by Sundog Solar) in the retail store,   Michelle was seeking an option for a roof-mounted system that would not penetrate her rubber roof-top. Sundog determined that an installation with ballasts and panel claws would work best, to hold the solar panels securely in place without penetration. The PV system is coupled with a Solar Edge system that allows Michelle to monitor her daily energy use.

Michelle invites me to her office to talk about her experience with Sundog. She isn’t one to waste words, and seated at her desk with an enormous, beautiful red textile piece with gold and silver embellishments that make me think of the heart’s circulation, she gets right to the heart of the matter. She loves her Fujitsu mini-split heat pump! She enumerates the reasons: You don’t have to store fuel.  The old, noisy AC units are replaced by the dual functioning heat pumps, which are quiet.  And best of all, Michelle explains, the quality of the heat is soft! Because nothing is getting heated, and air is only exchanged, there is a softness to the air. It isn’t drying like forced air.

Thanks to an Efficiency Maine rebate, Michelle was able to invest in a heat pump. As many of you know, this is a hot issue on the legislature right this very minute. Along with her heating investment, Michelle decided to make further improvements and switch over from halogen lights- which had to be changed weekly, section by section, to LED light-bulbs (available at Comtex.) I recall the height of the ceiling. That’s a lot of time up on the ladder!  Her staff definitely appreciates it, and although these lightbulbs are a big investment initially, they last for 20 years.  It’s interesting how one choice opens the route to another.

I ask Michelle about the savings she is experiencing as a result of her choices, but it hasn’t been a year, so she’s still waiting to see the results. Meanwhile, Michelle is happy to have invested in the local economy- while electing a renewable, clean energy source.

Michelle met Sundog through a friend at Avena Botanicals, where Sundog installed a pellet boiler. The same friend also told her about the rebate, which made it clear to Michelle that it was a great time, do-able, thanks to a double incentive to invest in renewable energy.  She tells me it was “so much fun” working with Sundog.

I ask Michelle about her choices of energy in her home.  Thanks to her location, passive solar provides inexpensive heat and keeps her electric bill under one hundred dollars.   Michelle’s interest and awareness of renewable energy is shared by many Belfast residents, within a community that has always had an alternative edge.

As I ready to leave,  I share an intriguing  tidbit– a discovery scientists announced in the past few days about energy exchange in plants. Apparently, if one plant needs energy it can borrow it from another in electro-magnetic charge. Michelle is equally intrigued, so I email her the link, and she emails me a photo of herself with Sundog owner, Danny Piper.

Thanks for supporting renewable energy in Maine! If you’re not sure who the legislators are where you live and operate a business, click here. http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm  See our earlier post on the Sundog Blog for more detailed information!

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