It's beginning to look a lot like solar
December 19, 2013

It’s a chilly December day in Olympia, Washington, but the sun is streaming into my dining room as I wrap up my final few tasks before the holiday break.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about coal over the last few years as the director of the Power Past Coal campaign.  Both of my grandfathers spent day after day below the ground mining coal in the Illinois Basin. Proud as I am of my heritage, I can’t help but wish they had had a life working above ground perhaps mining energy from the sun. 

Feeling the heat of the rays today, I am excited about those made in Washington solar panels that will be on top of my home soon.

Beth - Solar

One day about a year ago, my former colleague Rhys Roth came bounding into the office with his typical infectious excitement, raving about the benefits of installing solar. He got the best of me. “Now is the time,” he told me. “Lots of tax incentives and really – it’s just the right thing to do.”

South Sound SolarSo, my husband and I called South Sound Solar. South Sound Solar located in Thurston County is a locally-owned business that has been installing systems since 2007. We weren’t exactly the easiest customers in the world, but staff were always pleasant and able to provide us with clear documentation. 

ITEK logoTax incentives increase if you choose locally made solar panels in Washington.  Makes sense that we would support our state’s economy while reducing the carbon footprint of transporting the solar panels to our home and save money.  So ITEK panels it is!  ITEK is located in Whatcom County and now employs 35 people. 

Generations Credit UnionThe final step is financing. Generations Credit Union happened to have a great deal on loans for solar and again were super helpful in my quest to harvest the sun rays on my roof. 

So for a little more than $200 a month for the next few years, South Sound Solar is going to install 10 ITEK 250 Watt Panels with Theia 2.0 Inverter and I am going to have a 2500 Watt System on top of my house!

The only catch – South Sound Solar is so busy, I have to wait until FEBRUARY!  In fact, it appears that solar installers across the country are very busy these days.  U.S. solar installations continue to increase exponentially year over year. A recent study calculated that a new solar energy system is installed in the U.S. every 4 minutes, or at a rate of about 360 systems per day.  Soon I will be part of that statistic. 

Making something happen that is part of the solution is refreshing, especially when I’ve spent so much of my time fighting the behemoth fossil fuel industry standing in the way of a cleaner, healthier future. After all, it’s just the right thing to do.

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Author Bio

As a progressive, community organizer and a mother of two, Beth has spent the last thirty years in training to take on the trust and aspirations of her community, to secure a thriving, sustainable, just and compassionate future for us all. She is currently serving as a state representative from the 22nd legislative district.
When not serving in the Legislature, Beth serves as senior advisor at Climate Solutions, a Northwest-based clean energy economy nonprofit. She also served as the regional co-director for the Power Past Coal campaign.
She was the founding executive director of Washington Conservation Voters and served in that role from 1991 – 1995. In 1996 she was a field organizer for National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). She also served as a campaign organizer and later the development director for Audubon Washington. Beth has worked in public, private, and non-profit sectors, and has served in leadership staff positions in numerous political campaigns.
Beth has volunteered countless hours in the social service sector with Solid Ground and Noel House Homeless Shelter, on international development in Nicaragua, various environmental organizations, as an advocate for parks and sidewalks and in her children’s elementary school as PTA President.
Beth has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in political science and telecommunications. She has been married for 21 years to Dr. Eddy Cates, a family physician at Pioneer Family Practice. A mom of two young boys, she enjoys the outdoors, cycling, yoga, running, and traveling.

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