McComb Gardens 70% Powered by Sunshine
04/03/2010

Sequim Washington Nursery installs solar panels to power the Nursery

Online PR News – 03-April-2010 – – For Immediate Release: Friday, April 2, 2010
In Advance of: Earth Day (April 17, 2010)

Submitted Photo Caption: McComb Gardens debuts its new solar electric power system at the 2010 Sequim Earth Day celebration on April 17. “Our plants grow from the sun—we should get our electricity from the sun, too!” says co-owner Jane Stewart, who along with her husband Neil Burkhardt (both pictured) has operated McComb Gardens since 1998.

Sequim Nursery 70% Powered by Sunshine
McComb Gardens debuts grid-tied solar electric system this Earth Day

Sequim, Wash.—McComb Gardens proudly displays its commitment to environmental sustainability on the roof of its storefront. This spring the Sequim nursery threw the switch on a 4.23-kW grid-tied solar electric power system and now 70 percent of the business is powered by the sun, as reflected by reduced electric bills.

“Our plants grow from the sun—we should get our electricity from the sun, too!” says co-owner Jane Stewart, who along with her husband Neil Burkhardt has operated McComb Gardens since 1998.

Their solar electric (aka photovoltaic, or PV) power system makes its public debut at the upcoming 2010 Sequim Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 17. The nursery will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, offering tours of the new solar array and highlighting eco-friendly native and ornamental plants that are disease resistant, wildlife friendly and chemical free.

Stewart and Burkhardt were inspired to go solar by a recent article in Garden Center Magazine about Lakeview Nurseries in Lunenberg, Mass., which installed a 7.3-kW PV array and just made Today’s Garden Center’s “Revolutionary 100” list for 2010.

Stewart e-mailed Richard Bursch, the owner of Lakeview Nurseries, to get cost figures and information on how the system worked. Bursch indicated that the installation of the solar array also helped their business. “The publicity was priceless,” he wrote Stewart. “Our competition was down almost 50% for 2009 and we were up.”

To find out about local solar contractors, Stewart’s first call was to her friend Pat MacRobbie. Pat and her husband Stuart installed the first grid-tied PV solar array in Clallam County in 2003 and have participated in the annual Clallam County Solar Tour every year since. MacRobbie recommended their installer, Power Trip Energy, Corp., of Port Townsend.

Jeff Randall of Power Trip Energy met with Stewart and Burkhardt to evaluate their nursery for solar power potential. Randall concluded that the south-facing nursery store roof would be the best location for 18 Sharp solar modules rated at 4.23 kW. He also estimated that a system that size would offset about 70% of the annual electric bill for the nursery and Stewart and Burkhardt’s home, which shares electrical service with the nursery. Modern PV arrays require no batteries and are expected to operate virtually maintenance-free for 30 or more years.

Electricity produced by grid-tied solar PV systems is available for use by the owners on-site. Any excess power feeds back to the utility and is credited towards the customer’s electric bill, reducing monthly energy costs. Going solar often provides home and business owners a strong incentive to use electricity more efficiently as well.

The total system cost for McComb Gardens came in at just under $30,000. Stewart and Burkhardt made use of a $15,000 loan program through First Federal savings & loan and Clallam Public Utility District (PUD) #1 to reduce the up-front cost. A 30% federal income tax credit further reduces the system cost by about $8,000, as does a $2,115 cash rebate from the PUD. Annual production incentive payments through 2020 from the utility, plus annual electricity bill savings, will provide about $1,000 per year to help offset the loan payments.

After the loan, the tax credits, and the PUD rebate are calculated, the first-year out-of-pocket cost for the $30,000 system is about $3,600. “That’s less than a used car,” marvels Burkhardt. “This is a priority for us—we’ve just got to do it.”

Stewart adds, “Our goal is to inspire others to go solar—and for like-minded customers to buy their plants from us because we did.”

McComb Gardens provides quality landscape plants that will thrive in the Pacific Northwest to the amateur gardener and professional horticulturist. The nursery’s display gardens feature micro-climates, water features and mature specimens. All employees are Washington State Certified Horticultural Professionals or Students and customer seminars are offered regularly.

McComb Gardens’ Earth Day open house is 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 17. The nursery is located at 751 McComb Road, just north of Sequim. Visit www.mccombgardens.com for directions.

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CONTACT: McComb Gardens
Jane Stewart and Neil Burkhardt
Ph: (360) 681-2827
E-mail: info@mccombgardens.com
Website: www.mccombgardens.com
CONTACT: Power Trip Energy
Jeff Randall
Ph: (360) 301-9019
E-mail: jeffr@powertripenergy.com
Website: www.powertripenergy.com