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Solar incentives and Washington state: a great website for more reading

It was a challenge putting together today's news story, on page A1, about the incentives offered to businesses or homeowners installing solar energy panels. A challenge because there's a good deal of variety and complexity among the federal and state incentives.

One very helpful website for those interested in all those incentives and options is www.dsireusa.org. The name stands for Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Good site.

Some numbers that came from the research:

  •    The state of Washington has 3,020 approved solar systems at present, which covers both homes, community projects and businesses. The state's incentives include rebates for amount of solar energy produced per year, plus a waiver on purchases of equipment if the goods are made in this state.
  •    Avista Utilities has signed interconnect contracts with 121 customers in Eastern Washington, and 29 in its Idaho service area.  Of the 121, 98 are residential, 23 are business, according to spokesman Dan Kolbet.

Hucks: Sharing An Ink-Stained Past

What do Jess Walter, Richard Miller and Dan Kolbet have in common? Hint: They are ex-Spokesman-Review staffers. And? They’ve all written books. Walter, of course, parlayed his reporting of the August 1992 Ruby Ridge siege into a book (“Every Knee Shall Bow”) and a TV miniseries. He’s now penned seven books, with the last one, “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” receiving national acclaim. Kolbet, an Avista spokesman, worked in the sports department. Now, he’s written “Off the Grid,” a futuristic thriller about a man who fights a power monopoly that decides which cities are blacked out and which aren’t. Miller, a former editor now handling Washington State University public relations, has just published an anti-vampire-genre novel about a 150-year-old vampire living in downtown Spokane, “All You Can Eat.” No Team Edward versus Team Jacob going on here/DFO, Huckleberries. More here.

Other SR weekend columns:

Question: Have you read any of Jess Walter's books? Thoughts?

‘Avista Dan’ Pens Futuristic Novel

Earlier today, I told you of former SR editor Richard Miller's new, anti-vampire vampire book. Now, I'm letting you know about another book written by a former SR staffer, none other than "Avista Dan" Kolbet, who worked our sports desk from 1998-2003. "Off the Grid" is a futuristic novel about a wireless society controlled by one company that decides who gets power and who doesn't. You can read all about it here.

Question: If you wrote a book, what would it be about?

Avista Named Top Utility Social Media

Via email, Avista's Dan Kolbet writes: "Avista was just named the top utility in social media by our utility peers through a survey conducted by E Source, an energy analysis and research firm. Part of that recognition speaks to our commitment to have the sometimes hairy discussions about energy and the industry on your blog and S-R/other media comments. Our social media program was built on the model that says an authentic voice is the most effective way to engage with our customers. This channel is successful because we’ve committed to it as a complement to all of the other efforts employees take part in daily." You can read Dan's entire blog post here. (SR file photo)

Question: Do you appreciate Avista's commitment to be involved in the social media? Should other utilities & major corporation follow the model "that says an authentic voice is the most effective way to engage customers"?

Avista Dan: Do It Right The 1st Time

Now, I don’t care what anyone tells you – parent/teacher conferences are as much about evaluating your parenting skills as it is about how well your kid is really doing in the classroom. No worries – my daughter is doing great (little sigh of relief!) Her teacher said something that really stuck with me. The skills she’s learning today builds a foundation for future learning. If she doesn’t get it the first time around – it will be a lot harder to catch up later. It occurred to me as a walked through 3 inches of snow in the school parking lot that what my daughter’s teacher said would be true of shoveling a path to your utility meter too. If you don’t shovel it when it first snows – it’s going to be really hard to catch up the next time it snows … and again and again. Ice could build up or snow could become compact and stay there all winter long/Dan Kolbet, Avista spokesman. More here. (In this 2009 SR file photo, an Avista worker struggles to read a snowed-in meter)

Question: Do you agree with Dan — that doing something right the first time, and teaching kids the proper way to do things, prevents problems down the road?