At Columbia REA, we have always embraced clean, renewable energy. The electricity we provide to you, our members, is already over 90% carbon-free, and we have plans to create more renewable energy here at Columbia REA, and even make some of it available to the community.
You may have seen Sparky, our fully electric, 2020 Nissan Leaf at our annual meeting or running around town. We know electric cars will play a big role in the future of transportation in the Walla Walla valley and we are planning for that now.
To keep Sparky charged up, along with other electric vehicles–whether they’re part of our fleet in the future, or driven by employees or the general public–we have broken ground on our first of two planned solar energy projects at our Walla Walla service center on Melrose and Airport way.
On the north end of our property, in our employee parking lot, we are currently installing a ground-mounted solar-generating system that will help provide up to 20 KW’s of electricity. In the same area, we are also adding two level II EV charging stations for our electric vehicles. Unused electricity will be fed back into the system if not needed by our fleet vehicles.
The second solar installation will be in our customer service parking area off Melrose street, where we will be building a large carport, with approximately 16 KW’s of solar producing panels on the carport roof. Under the shade will be a commercial electric vehicle charger for travelers and locals. The pay-as- you-go charger will be one of the biggest available today. Also known as a 100KV DC fast charger, this is designed to charge an EV battery to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes.
In total we will have about 34 KW’s of solar electrical production on our location, or about the same as three or four average sized residential solar generating systems.
We are motivated in our pursuit of a clean energy future. This is an important step for us, as an electric utility, to be able to create and provide our own clean, renewable electricity right here at our service center, and by doing so, offset some of our own costs, and help locals and travelers top off while visiting the area. The future of clean energy in our communities is bright, and rest assured, we are excited to be a part of it!