By Nathan Whalen
Whidbey News Times Reporter
Looking for a way to turn back the dial and make a couple of bucks? Then Kelly Keilwitz might have something to help.
Keilwitz, owner of Whidbey Sun and Wind, installs solar power electrical generators that tie directly into the power grid.
The power generated goes to the power company meter and, in effect, turns the dial backward.
"Utilities have to pay us for the electricity we produce at the same rate they charge us," said Keilwitz, who relocated his home-based business to Coupe's Village last month.
To best show how the solar generator works, he is using his own home as a test subject and installed a one kilowatt solar generator at his home near Camp Casey.
Since selling and promoting renewable power systems, Keilwitz said there's been a high demand for grid-tied generators.
He added that a homeowner will see a 2-percent to 4-percent annual return on their investment, but that investment will increase as power rates continue to climb.
Whidbey Island is a good location for solar power because it lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and also receives less rainfall then other areas in the Puget Sound, Keilwitz said.
Whidbey Wind and Sun offers three different types of systems depending on the power output. The custom built systems range in price from $8,000 to $17,600.
Keilwitz is also tinkering with a wind-powered generator that he is building from scratch. He is getting ready to paint the 40-foot-tall structure that will be installed next to his solar panel.
Whidbey Sun and Wind has been selling alternative energy sources for about three years and was only recently able to expand.
The company specializes in providing consulting and education of renewable power sources. The company provides consultation and installation of a variety of power sources, but specialize in solar and wind power and hot water heating.
One of his newer products is the solar oven which was placed outside his second-story office.
"I'm heating it up to cook my lunch," Keilwitz said.
He added that he wants to do more outreach to teach the benefits of renewable power.
Currently he is working with Greenbank Farm to build a wind turbine. But he said a grant has to go through before the project can move forward.
Keilwitz added that he hopes to participate in community education programs.
"I'm here to help educate, facilitate and promote it," Keilwitz said.
He got the idea to promote alternative energy sources several years ago when he and his wife, Janie, took a 15-month tour of Asia before starting a family.
"During the trip, I decided I wanted to make a positive difference on our planet," Keilwitz said.
Upon returning to the island, he began to phase out his consulting business he operated since 1994 while building up Whidbey Wind and Sun.
In the future, he wants to continue building and promoting alternative power sources. He hopes to have a larger store to carry more products. However he said he wants to maintain his presence on the island.
Whidbey Wind and Sun is in Coupeville.