Solid Ground Electric, Philomath, Ore., helped make Salem, Ore., the first state capitol in the nation to use a renewable source of energy. As part of an Earth Day project, Solid Ground installed solar panels to light the golden pioneer atop the Oregon Capitol Building.

“Last year's energy crisis really brought the need for new power sources to the forefront,” said Dan McCabe, owner of Solid Ground Electric. “Our company is excited about our work on this project and others that are bringing renewable sources of energy online.”

A team of workers installed 60 panels above the west wing of the Capitol. Each panel uses photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity — three times the amount required to light the 23-ft-tall Oregon Pioneer statue atop the rotunda. Of the 234,000 kWh the project will generate in 30 years, 150,000 kWh will feed into the PGE power grid, and the remainder will be fed back to the Capitol for night lighting of the Oregon Pioneer. Solid Ground Electric donated its time in working on the Capitol's lighting project. In December 2001, Solid Ground provided its expertise on a project in the Columbia River Gorge to bring additional wind power into the region's power grid.

“It is important to show that mainstream electrical contractors are pioneers in all aspects of the electrical trade — including renewable energy,” McCabe said. “We must make the public aware of the many services contractors offer in order to ensure that each installation is safe and of the utmost quality.”

The lighting project formed as a partnership between the Independent Electrical Contractors of Oregon, which represents the state's merit shop electrical contractors, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 280, which represents union contractors.

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