U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville and Kulshan Community Land Trust dedicated a newly constructed home with solar panels in a living community on Lafayette Street on Monday, June 22.
Solar panels will continue to be installed on the newly constructed homes as a result of an anonymous grant donation, the land trust recently received.
Larsen and Linville were two of several city and county elected officials in attendance for the dedication and ribbon cutting of one of three new energy efficient homes that are part of the Kulshan Community Land Trust.
“Our goal is to do as many of our homes as possible, but for sure we want to do solar on all of the new homes we’ve built ourselves,” said Dean Fearing, Executive Director of Kulshan Community Land Trust.
Kulshan Community Land Trust is a nonprofit organization located in Bellingham, that aims to support low to moderate income homebuyers.
Megan Grosshuesch and Joseph and Calvin Hill, soon-to-be homeowners of one of the dedicated houses were also in attendance and cut the ribbon for their new home. Grosshuesch said at the dedication that she and her family were excited to move into their new home soon, after showing interest nearly two years ago.
“The boxes are all packed,” Grosshuesch said. “We’re just waiting on things to be signed by the city.”
Larsen attended the event because he is a supporter of solar energy as well as other sources of renewable energy, said Ingrid Stegemoeller, Larsen’s communications director.
All but two of KulshanCLT homes in the area have solar panels built by Itek Energy that were installed by Ecotech Solar. Ecotech Solar is another Bellingham-based company that works with KulshanCLT when possible.
The two homes lacking solar panels were built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to passive home standards, meaning that the energy costs for homes are supposed to be less than $100 a year. Therefore, homes built to passive houses standards have little to no need for solar power, Olson said.
Larsen discussed renewable energy sources in Washington at the Hampton Inn by the Bellingham airport. The event was hosted by the Northwest Jobs Alliance, Whatcom Business Alliance and Keep Washington Competitive organizations. During the event, Larsen noted that Bellingham-based itek Energy is the leading manufacturer of solar panels in the state.
Itek Energy produced the solar panels installed on the KulshanCLT homes. The company, opened in 2011, is expected to produce between 25 and 30 megawatts of solar capacity in 2015. “That’s energy enough for 4,300 homes,” Larsen said. Fearing said they started doing new construction because it allows them to control the quality of the homes.
“These homes are really green and energy efficient,” Fearing said. “We can keep the price of the home down and get a really high quality home out of it.”
Last year, the trust bought 2.25 acres of land in northern Bellingham off Telegraph Road, Fearing said. The goal is to build 25 to 35 more houses up there but the trust is currently in the process of determining how many homes the site will allow, Fearing said.