Moving east has been a goal of Northwest Electric and Solar owner Derek White for a while now, and in January, he finally took the plunge.
White and around 40 employees provide electrical and solar panel installation services in the greater Seattle area, but living in Bothell and having grown up in Kirkland, White was looking for a chance to move closer to home. His new Kenmore location on 73rd Avenue Northeast just north of Northeast Bothell Way is outfitted with solar panels on the roof, which White said offset the his power costs.
“Just decided to get closer to the Eastside,” White said about the move.
White started an electrical apprenticeship around 16 years ago and has worked for large power providers such as Seattle City Light before striking out on his own. When he opened his business, he said many people in the industry weren’t paying attention to solar power. This has changed in recent years.
“People are starting to get more of an idea that this actually works,” he said.
While the perception that the Pacific Northwest can’t support solar power exists, White said he regularly zeroes out his home power bill thanks to panels installed at home. Local utilities can pay up to $5,000 annually to customers who are putting more power into the local grid than they consume.
A lack of sun during dark northwest winters is often offset by lots of sunshine the rest of the year. Large solar farms have been proposed in Thurston County by TransAlta and in eastern Washington near Lind by Strata Solar.
White said interest from residents and small businesses have been picking up in recent years. The average cost for a basic solar setup runs around $15,000, which usually pays for itself after four to seven years.
Washington state residents also benefit from recovery cost incentives, sales tax exemptions and other kickbacks approved by the state legislature and federal government to help promote solar use.
Emerging technology can also be useful to residents, White said. On top of general electrical work and installing solar panels, the business is certified to install Tesla batteries, which store enough power to rival generators as backup options.
“Things have been getting more efficient over the years,” White said.
One such battery hangs on the wall of his office’s common area in a sleek white casing.
Northwest Electric and Solar additionally installs around 25 electric car charges each week and offers free charging onsite. Two cars were parked and charging outside the business on a recent afternoon.
“It’s a fun industry to be in,” White said.
Northwest Electric and Solar is located at 18001 73rd Avenue Northeast in Kenmore.