Inspired by angel of light
For The Sentinel
Don't tell Jonathan Lewis that sustainable energy is a plaything of neo-hippies and Aspen zillionaires.
Lewis is neither. Yet he has built a business and a family by focusing small-scale power harvested from wind and sun. He'll share some of his knowledge during the Goldendale Energy Exposition, Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28, at the Klickitat County Fairgrounds.
The timing is right, Lewis said. Prices for home-sized sustainable energy equipment are lower now than in years.
A licensed electrician, Lewis always had been fascinated by the potential of power falling on each home, on each acre of land, around the globe. To ignore the gifts of solar and wind power seemed wasteful.
The more he thought, the stronger the call of sustainable energy became. About the same time - 2003 - he and his wife Kathleen decided they needed to move. Albany, Ore., was becoming too much like a big city, with all the big city problems that can crush family life.
As Orthodox Christians, the Lewis family visited St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery on Satus Pass. They loved the feel of Goldendale. So, they moved to 20 acres off the Bickleton Highway, eight miles east of town.
But the transition involved more than 160 miles and a shift to the country. Jonathan Lewis started a new company that would focus on small-scale sustainable power. He would call it Seraphim Energy, after a biblical angel representing light.
Oddly, Klickitat County's wind potential didn't enter into the equation.
"Every time we visited the place, everything was nice and calm," Lewis said. "But when we showed up with the moving truck, it was blowing 60 mph. We had trouble just keeping the furniture down."
Today, you can see dozens of big wind turbine towers from the Lewis place. But in 2003, big wind was just getting started in the Northwest. The largest wind project in the region was near Walla Walla.
"It didn't take us long to figure out that we had some wind here," Lewis said. Flying furniture may have contributed to the revelation.
Entirely by chance, Lewis' place is next door to that of Ed Kennell, who active in sustainable energy during the last big energy crisis, in the 1970s. Soon after the Lewis family moved in, Kennell erected a Bergey Windpower Co. small turbine with a rated capacity of 10 kilowatts. Lewis helped out.
"I learned a lot from Ed," Lewis said.
That was to be Seraphim Energy's first job in renewable power. After finding Seraphim Energy on the Internet, another neighbor, Gwen Bassetti, put up a 10 kw wind turbine on her Caldwell-Davis-Bassetti Ranch.
Seraphim's second job. By comparison, 10 kw is enough power to illuminate 166 bulbs rated at 60 watts. But that's only when the wind is blowing the right speed, which isn't all the time - not even half.
Both neighbors' remain on the grid, supplementing their load with wind turbines, selling what's not used to Klickitat PUD.
"Then we got a 2 kw solar system in Trout Lake. From then, everything just snowballed," Lewis said.
To date he's installed 60 systems with a combined capacity of 150 kw, including his own solar array of 1.2 kw. Next will be his own 5 kw wind turbine. He too remains on the grid.
Today, Lewis estimates 85 percent of his work is related to sustainable power. The rest is regular commercial and residential work.
"After awhile, we figured out Klickitat County didn't have enough people to keep us busy with renewables." He's stretched out to Hood River on the west, Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater on the east and Naches to the north.
The next step involves his two oldest sons. Isaac, 18, is putting together an on-line store, at which people can order sustainable energy and energy conservation kits. The site also will offer advice and how-to videos.
Oliver, 16, is the media guy, putting together the videos and taking care of the web site.
The Lewises expect the store to be running in a couple of months. They'll let you know when, if you sign up for their newsletter. Go to www.in2solar.com. Click on "Sign up for our free newsletter" at the top right corner of the page.
Now is a good time to get serious about home-sized sustainable energy, Lewis said. Last year, big solar projects raced to complete installation before federal incentives expired. To meet the demand, manufacturers increased production.
Turns out, the federal incentive program was extended, but now the big players have trouble getting credit in today's economy. That means a lot of solar and wind stuff is looking for a home - cheap.
"This time last year, you couldn't get a wholesaler to listen to you. Things are a lot different today," Lewis said. He expects prices to rise next year, if the economy improves.
Meanwhile, incentive and federal stimulus money is growing for home-sized installation.
You can find a state-by-state compilation of programs at www.dsireusa.org. (It stands for Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.) The site also includes federal stimulus and traditional incentive programs.
This all greatly pleases Jonathan Lewis. Six years ago, he was scratching for a living, working with neighbors. Today, he has a thriving business anchored overwhelmingly with the sustainable economy.
Jonathan and Kathleen Lewis have five good reasons to keep the future bright - their kids: Isaac, Oliver, Addison, Mara and Elsbeth, ages 18 to 8.
June 27 -
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
June 28 -
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Klickitat County Fairgrounds
Cost is $1 per person for both days, under 5 is free.
A partial list of some of the exhibitors:
• Vertical-axis residential wind turbine - MT Environmental Technology
• New 2010 hybrid automobiles - Toyota of Yakima
• For the kids - solar water fountain, solar oven, solar misting station, solar heating and cooling, pedal-power generator - Franklin County PUD
• Straw bale construction and earthen stucco finish - Sustainable Homestead Learning Center
• Solar panels, horizontal-axis residential wind turbine, on-grid and off-grid system integration - Seraphim Energy
• Sustainability tips - Reduce auto idling, cleaner woodstoves, alternative burning techniques - Washington Department of Ecology
• The big stuff: -Windy Point Partners, owners of the wind farm south of Goldendale
• Retrofit for sustainability - Cutaway home showing energy-efficient windows and doors, free outlet gasket kits, alternative hydro, and generation from landfill gas - Klickitat PUD.
Kimono feature of Gallery open house
One is a kimono and a dozen are also kimono and they are featured at this year's Golden Art Gallery exhibit, auction and dinner.
The public is invited to the opening reception of Kimono: the Art of Japanese Textiles on June 25, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wine, sake and appetizers will be served. On display will be vintage kimono and oriental art from local members of The Golden Gallery. The exhibits will be on display from June 23 through July 19. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
The annual auction and dinner fundraiser will be held on July 11. The Japanese inspired dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. with the auction starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at the Golden Gallery for $12 adult and $5 children 13 and under. Tickets at the door are $15.
County veterans' stories documented GHS book
A Goldendale High School English class project culminated last week with a public ceremony in the gymnasium, honoring American veterans. Fourteen recent Goldendale High School graduates honored the veterans they interviewed and researched as juniors for the project assigned by their teacher, Maryanna Kruse. Each of the veterans were presented with a complimentary copy of the book "The Memoirs of Klickitat County Veterans" published by the school as well as a certificate of "Honorary Timberwolf."
Ryell Carley presented her award and book to Sachi Goode, daughter of Hinton Goode, who died in 2007, and Hailey Hudson came to acknowledge her veteran, Robert Imrie, also deceased, whose family was not able to come to accept the honor.
Graduates Casey Marvin, Jesse Robles, Hannah Swigart, Ashley Darnielle, Erin Wade, Tiffany Chipman, Traci Bailey, and Fletcher Wilhite recognized veterans James Brokaw, Rich Randall, Bruce Atkins, Kenneth Sheridan, George Mincks, Wendy Jung-Hodges, Walt Jones, and Harold Hill, respectively. Conner Harris presented the book to his interviewee, Isami Tsubota, not a veteran in the ordinary sense, but a United States' citizen interred during World War II. His children, Karen Timblin and Eugene Tsubota were also present at the ceremony. Asa Israel, who researched and wrote of the incendiary balloon bombs, presented a book to the president of the Goldendale Historical Society, Bonnie Beeks, and Librarian Rachel Gunkel. Fantasia Carroll-Parson wrote of her interview with Patrick Parson, her father. George Milner was the subject of Kylee Bellamy's interview. His award was presented by Kruse.
According to Kruse, "Ken Marvel, local historian of veterans, who provided endless amounts of resources to the students as well as coached them on interviewing skills was not able to be present. His wife, Diane Marvel, accepted the award for him."
The book is on sale for $10 and will be available at Saturday Market and at the Klickitat County Fair.