Boat school installs solar panels on campus

Leader News Staff
Posted 11/24/22

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has installed an array of solar panels on two roofs at the school’s campus in Port Hadlock. The new solar panels are expected to offset close to 100 …

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Boat school installs solar panels on campus


The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding has installed an array of solar panels on two roofs at the school’s campus in Port Hadlock. The new solar panels are expected to offset close to 100 percent of the boat school’s upper campus electrical consumption. They were set up on the roofs of the campus’s marine systems shop and the Hammond Shop.

Installation was scheduled and completed in October, and the system will go online this month after the Jefferson County Public Utility District sets up new meters on the campus.

Not only will the installation provide a long term financial benefit to the school, but it also aligns with the school’s environmental stewardship values.

“At the boat school, students learn and work with traditional craft and also work with and experience the most up-to-date technologies, whether in boat building or marine systems,” said Betsy Davis, executive director of the boat school.

Port Townsend’s Cascadia Solar designed the panels and  installed them on the campus roofs.

Once set up, the solar panels will operate “at a rated capacity of over 80 kilowatts, the boat school will have one of the largest solar power systems in Jefferson County, providing power for the next 25 years and significantly reducing utility bills by offsetting 99 percent of the upper campus’ electrical needs,” said Hans Fredrickson, president of Cascadia Solar. “We appreciate the leadership of local organizations like the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding showing the way towards a sustainable future.”

The 164 panels installed at the boat school will save an estimated $9,000 in power costs per year, with an estimated total savings of more than $200,000 over the life of the system. Additionally, each year the project’s carbon offset is the equivalent of driving 71,558 fewer miles or planting 18,532 trees that year.

“Solar technology is very much a part of today’s boats,” said Kevin Ritz, marine systems lead instructor for the school. “Having this as part of the school’s grid will familiarize students with the technology and solidify it as a viable power option.”

Major funding for the project is provided by the Institute for Law and Systems Research, led by Alice Anda and James Ward. Their environmentally-based philanthropy mission is to create systems and support for a sustainable future.

The institute was also a major supporter of the solar-powered, all-electric, “Clean Bay” pump-out boat built by the boat school and currently at the Port Ludlow Marina.

An initial meeting between Ritz, Davis, and Anda in 2018 sparked a “flurry of activity to establish the first steps of a network and support system for sharing and promoting alternatives to carbon-emitting boat propulsion within the boating community,” Anda said.

With the success of the Clean Bay project, the “solarization” of the Boat School was an extension of the Institute’s support.

Nonprofit lender Craft3 in Port Angeles provided a Clean Energy Fund loan to assist the institute’s grant funding for Clean Bay. Craft3 was also vital to launching the boat school’s Marine Systems program. The Port Angeles-based nonprofit makes investments to strengthen resilience in local economies, families, and the ecosystem.

“Our relationship with the boat school has been a great partnership. Institutions like the boat school create lasting positive change, and we are proud to have helped leverage their work for the benefit of the community,” said Erika Lindholm, Craft3 business lender.


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