With solar panels on the roof of her downtown Roseburg law office, attorney and mediator Sharon Lee Schwartz is committed to sustainable energy practices.

“It’s the right thing to do and we like the idea of making our own power and being as self sufficient as possible,” Schwartz said.

The Sharon Lee Schwartz LLC. office will be one of the stops on the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition’s guided tour of solar and green building projects in Douglas County.

The 15th annual Smart Energy Green & Solar Tour will commence at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Phoenix School, 3131 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd., Roseburg. A $10 ticket includes lunch and transportation between the four locations on the tour.

Participants will be able to see the 7.4 kilowatt solar project on top of Schwartz’s office building. During the sunny summer, the solar panels have generated an average of 800 kilowatts of power per month, about twice as much as what the office uses, creating a credit that Schwartz can carry forward into the fall and winter months.

“I offset 2,011 pounds of carbon, that’s the equivalent of 23 trees, and that was from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31,” she said. She added that the initial cost of the solar panels will pay off over time, as she received money from the Energy Trust of Oregon and a federal tax credit. Since the panels are on a business building, she’ll also be able to depreciate the cost of the panels.

Jim Stelson, owner of Energy Efficient Hospitals, has helped out with the annual tour in the past, and his home will be featured this year as well.

“It’s just to give people an understanding of the variety of possibilities of how solar works in these particular cases,” Stelson said. “It’s an inexpensive learning experience to talk to people about their situation and see how they applied solar.” He added that the tour is limited to 40 people.

Stelson said a goal of the tour is to get people thinking about how effective solar power can be to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gasses and have a power source that’s considered renewable.

Stelson’s house qualifies as a net zero building, using renewable energy and zero fossil fuels.

“That is where you’re providing all of your home’s needs from a renewable source,” he said. “Not only do I provide all the electricity and then some for my house but I have an electric car that I charge as well.” Stelson plans to help the tour participants learn about different ways they can move closer to net zero homes.

“I’m looking forward to having mine as one of the stops,” he said.

A second home that incorporates energy efficiency and solar power will also be featured on the tour.

Event organizer Stuart Liebowitz said the tour will start at the Phoenix School.

“They have a strong and positive history in terms of saving money, and that in essence is what this tour is all about, how to save energy and save money for the average individual,” he said. A representative from the Energy Trust of Oregon plans to speak during the tour as well.

“It’s really a good idea to get the most current information so you can be part of the growing number of individuals who want to be energy independent,” Liebowitz said.

Participants can register at solartoursignup@gmail.com or 541-672-9819.

Reporter Emily Hoard can be reached at 541-957-4217 or ehoard@nrtoday.com. Or follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

Emily Hoard is a business and outdoor reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

(1) comment


Solar power is indeed a very effective technology. I don't understand why its so hard to get though. With the price of panels dropping so much over the years, you'd think Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, or Costco would have them sitting on store shelves for anyone to simply pick up and purchase. They cost less than equivalent sized modern glass windows for goodness sakes!

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