Solar growing exponentially across Anchorage as 2018 tour takes place

Published: May. 12, 2018 at 3:06 PM AKDT
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The 10th annual Anchorage Solar Tour took place Saturday as a way to showcase solar panel setups at homes and businesses across the city.

Crowds of people gathered for a tour across Anchorage, stopping off at the University of Alaska Anchorage admin building and Bosco's Retail store in Spenard.

The Heritage residence was the tour's third stop and showed how solar power can be used in a ranch-style home.

Andy Baker, the event's organizer, spoke about how the homeowners had put solar panels on the south and west side of their home. Their goal was to get to net zero Baker explained, meaning the homeowners generated as much power as they consumed.

Currently, the house had a 6.6 kilowatt system that translated to around 90% of their annual usage.

Ben May, the owner of solar installation business Anchorage Solar, spoke about the exponential growth the technology was experiencing as popularity grew, "Last year I doubled the business and this year it looks like I'll triple it."

May described two years ago his company installed 10 panel systems, this year, it would be around 60. The growth in popularity and interest meant May was hiring more people to work for his business.

Chris Pike, a research engineer at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, said he had also witnessed a year-after-year growth in the solar industry across Anchorage.

Currently, Pike estimates that Municipal Light & Power has around 250 kilowatts of solar installed that translates to around 50 installations. Chugach Electric Association has around 280 kilowatts, which would translate to around 55 customers.

Baker explained that as prices dropped for solar and electricity prices rose, interest in solar was growing, meaning installers across the city were sharpening their pencils to compete for business.