Learn about the Oregon Energy Industries Association and the Solar Showers at the Oregon Country Fair! Amy Berg-Pickett talks to us about supporting solar energy statewide in a dynamic environment. Also hear from the Solar Showers crew- how to get clean on a dusty day!
Energy Park Solar
Transcription by Jade Rainsong
(Karen:) So we’re an energy park now, there’s so much going on in here today. It’s nice and cool actually late afternoon here on Saturday. I’m at a in the center of the very center of energy Park. There’s this structure looks like it has giant solar panels on it and there’s all kinds of information here about solar energy, alternative energy and let’s find out some more. Can you tell me your name and a little bit about this booth?
(Amy:) Yeah, my name is Amy Berg Pickett and this booth is the Oregon Energy Industries Association, and it’s a group of companies and nonprofits in Oregon that come together to support solar in the state.
(Karen:) So are there some good things happening with solar in the state of Oregon as opposed to other places around the country?
(Amy:) We have had some successes. It’s definitely a dynamic and changing arena. Rooftop Solar Residential is having some challenges and utility scale like this had made some progress in the state. It’s very very slow growth. And we’re looking to revamp with some good legislation maybe in 2019 to promote the solar industry in Oregon.
(Karen:) Nice. So this is a good place for people to come to find out more about solar if they have questions, or maybe they just don’t know what they don’t know and just need someone to kind of say Hey this some neat stuff happening with solar. So what about the solar panels above us on this big wood structure? What are those power here?
(Amy:) It’s for charging for the staff.
(Karen:) I see so people can charge up phones and things here that they need to from the Sun.
(Amy:) Staff can, but they actually moved the fairgoers charging station out to Dragon Plaza.
(Karen:) We used that one yesterday to charge a cell phone. That’s great. Yeah, how long have you been doing this kind of work?
(Amy:) For four years.
(Karen:) So behind you on the structure I see a picture a panel you were pointing to that about utilities. So this is like a giant feild with what looks like hundreds of solar panels just stretching off into infinity so that a lot of energy can be captured all at once in like a flat place.
(Amy:) Yep, I’ll give you an example. This one I believe might be in Lake County in Oregon. I’m not sure the size but let’s just say it generates 10 megawatts of energy that would need about a hundred acres worth of land and that’s enough energy for probably about 3,000 homes the equivalent of enough energy to power three thousand homes.
(Amy:) Solar is like creating one and one in every new 50 jobs is in the Solar industry and it did slow down in 2017. So it employs about 300,000 people in the United States and the cost of equipment has come down so much that that utility-scale energy is equivalent with natural gas generation right now as far as cost. But the plus with solar farms is that the energy is locked in for a long period of time. It’s not it’s not as impacted by markets of market up and down fluctuation.
(Karen:) So are there a lot of projects going on in the Pacific Northwest like this to put big solar panel installations up?
(Amy:) There’s probably about 30 utility-scale solar farms in Oregon right now a few and Eastern Oregon, a couple in central Oregon about 12 or more in Western, Oregon and a couple and a few in Southern Oregon.
(Karen:) Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, that sounds like some good things happening in solar. So Alternative Energy -rock on.
(Amy:) Yeah. It’s a beautiful field to work in.
(Karen:) There’s some really neat solar showers people can take care and energy Park find out more about what that is. Can you tell me about these solar showers?
(Unknown:) Yeah, so we have three beautiful wooden showers in there and they’re powered by the solar thermal system that sits in the middle of Energy Park and then we do cheat and have propane when the sun’s not shining. But yeah, there’s a I don’t know how many gallons a couple hundred gallons on top of the structure there.
(Karen:) So it looks like people can pay for hot or cold showers. Yeah, and do you get public people coming in and taking these or is it mostly Fair camping people?
(Unknown:) It’s mostly Fair family. But we do it’s open to the public $3 for a hot and $1 for a cold.
(Karen:) So is that like a timed like hit the buzzer you get three minutes?
(Unknown:) You can take one, well, we encourage five minutes or less.
(Karen:) Do you know how long this has been a part of Energy Park?
(Unknown:) I don’t but I’ve been here 12 years and it’s been here every year that I’ve been coming.
(Karen:) Shower sounds really good right about now.
(Unknown:) Yeah, it’s really our main source of income and then there’s we do this cell phone charging out and dragon Plaza.
(Karen:) Great. Awesome. Yeah. How many people come through these showers?
(Unknown:) What is that, a hundred at least?
(Karen:) Wow, that’s serving a lot of people a lot of sweaty happy fairgoers.
(Unknown:) Busier right about now. We’ll probably have another hundred coming through.
(Karen:) How late are you open till?
(Unknown:) 7:00, and then after that, it’s we’re actually kind of open until well after dark.
(Karen:) Fair time, Fair family time. Thank you so much for doing this.