The Eastern Sierra claims some of the best and most intense sunshine in the world. Solar power can not be far behind. In
fact, solar projects have begun to crop up in many places, particularly in the Owens Valley where the sun rarely hides behind clouds. The latest – Hi Country Market in Big Pine.
Owner Chris Holt hired Sierra Solar, a local company, to make him more green and to help him invest in his business with a long-term asset that will mean lower power bills for many years to come. Crews mounted the solar panels on the south-facing roof of Holt’s store and on top of the roof.
Jim Harper of Sierra Solar said that as solar projects have multiplied, the cost of panels and solar projects has gone down as much as 30% in recent years. For Chris Holt’s project, the Department of Water and Power solar program will mean a 50% rebate on the cost of the array.
Independence from the power grid will also avoid electricity rate hikes and other uncertainties in the future. State and federal governments continue to push utilities to use more renewable energy, and programs like DWP’s will add to their green portfolio while it also helps local businesses and homeowners. Holt likes the fact that he can help the environment and help his businesses.
Chris Holt had, in fact, started with solar panels at his adjacent Laundromat water heater which also provides hot water for his Bristlecone Motel. So, the sun definitely will have all of his operations covered, including his store and gas station.
Next in Big Pine – a solar power project at the school. Voters had approved Measure A to fund that innovative move. Holt and other citizens were supportive of making Big Pine more green.