Following the sun

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PENDLETON — When Daniel Medina and his wife, Jennifer, were shopping for a home in Pendleton last year, they had one requirement that probably doesn’t make too many house-hunters’ list of needs: Enough sunny space on the roof for a solar panel array they would be bringing with them along with furniture and other possessions.

“She really loved this home, here,” Medina said of the historic two-story house at 342 S. Pendleton Ave., a structure that dates back to 1899.

Plus, he recalled the excitement when they looked up and realized, “Oh, yeah, the roof is perfect. It’ll fit all the panels up here. It’s a perfect setup.”

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The public will have the opportunity to get an up-close look at the home and its power-generating capacity from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, when the Medinas are set to conduct an open house as part of the National Solar Tour.

The nationwide tour is arranged by the non-profits American Solar Energy Society and Solar United Neighbors; anyone with a solar power set-up can sign up to conduct an open house.

The tour, according the event website, nationalsolartour.org, “is the largest grassroots solar event in the U.S., providing an opportunity for solar homes and businesses around the country to open their doors to neighbors and solar supporters in their communities. Whether you are brand new to solar or have had panels on your roof for 20 years, the tour is an opportunity to build community, learn about the latest technologies and celebrate solar energy!”

Medina said his goal in participating in the tour is to show that an average person can afford solar and contribute to a cleaner environment.

“I’m just a fairly normal person. I’m not a person of great means,” said Medina, who is a speech pathologist and sole breadwinner for his family, which includes his wife and three children ages 10, 4, and 1. “I just want to show people it’s not a novelty. There’s a lot of money in green energy. In the future, I feel there’s going to be a great green energy economy.”

The Medina solar set-up, which cost more than $10,000 after a 30 percent federal tax credit, generates about 800 Kilowatt hours of electricity during a good month. A house such as the Medinas’, which is 2,600 square feet in size, “might use 1,000 Kilowatt hours of electricity per month,” he said.

Medina recently made a bigger investment in green energy, with the purchase of a Tesla Model 3, a 100 percent electric car.

“Honestly, I probably pay about the same in electricity as in gas,” Medina said. But, “I do say that I have solar panels, so I feel that I’m offsetting and not placing a greater burden on the environment. Plus, I drive a cooler car now.”

The open house is open to the public, and visitors will be able to see the solar panels up close, ask questions about how solar works and connect with other people in the community who support solar energy.

Bob Post of Pendleton will be at the open house will a solar oven baking cookies for those who stop by.