Here comes the sun at WSU

Tuesday , April 21, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Mike Vaughan
Guest Commentary

In the late 1960s, I was mining the shelves in a public library, and I came across a book titled the Whole Earth Catalog. I was amazed and enchanted. In an era before personal computers, web browsers and Google, you could sit down with the Whole Earth Catalog and learn about things you had never considered. The catalog covered topics like Shelter, Craft, Community, and Communications.

I was especially enamored by the sections on self-sufficiency and shelter. There were articles on solar water heaters and passive solar design. As I read the articles, I contemplated a time when people would be able to power their homes without being totally dependent on the electric utilities. For residents of Northern Utah, that time is fast approaching.

The Susie Hulet Community Solar Program is a joint effort of Weber State University’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center and Utah Clean Energy. The program will assist residents in Weber, Davis and Morgan counties in converting their homes to solar electricity.

The specific intent is to provide accurate information about the current state of solar energy to help homeowners assess the feasibility of converting their homes to solar. In addition, those who choose to convert their homes to solar will qualify for a discounted rate for a quality solar installation as well as a pre-screened and simplified installation process.

Four years ago, Jenn Bodine and her husband purchased their home. In an effort to make their home as energy efficient as possible they changed light bulbs, added attic insulation, attended to caulking and sealing, and installed new windows. Then, they turned to installing solar power.

Jenn’s total out-of-pocket cost for the solar installation after federal, state, and Rocky Mountain Power incentives was just $5,000. Her first bill with solar energy came after a scorching July. The total electric bill was just $7, and that represents the basic monthly fees. Jenn says that every time she hears friends complain about the high cost of electricity she shows them her Rocky Mountain Power bills.

Still, Jenn says that she wishes she had the opportunity to participate in the Susie Hulet Community Solar Program when she installed solar for her home two years ago. “Figuring out where to start and who to talk to was a bit daunting.”

Susie Hulet was a passionate voice for sustainable living. When Susie passed away last October, her father, Jack Goddard, provided seed money to start a community solar program in her memory. For the past several months, Susie’s husband Elliot, friends and family members, Weber State University faculty and staff, and representatives from Utah Clean Energy have been working to make her dream a reality.

The Susie Hulet Community Solar program will officially start with a public workshop on May 28th at 5:30 p.m. in the Hurst Center at Weber State University. The workshop will provide interested homeowners an opportunity to learn about the program, meet installers, get their questions answered, and decide if they want to take the next step. Volunteers will be available to answer questions about going solar, including many who have systems on their own homes.

Additional public workshops will be held at various locations throughout the summer. Anyone can take the first step in going solar by going to to provide contact information for a place in a workshop.

I think Susie would be proud of the program.

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