Burton Auto Turns 30 and Goes Solar • Solar Electric Contractor In Seattle WA | (206) 557-4215


Ann Starr dreamed about getting solar for Burton Auto, her family-owned Vashon business, for decades. It wasn’t until she attended a solar workshop at the Vashon Land Trust last fall, however, that she realized the timing was right for making that dream a reality. In January, Burton Auto became the first Vashon business to invest in solar, and one of the largest solar power producers on the island. The business’s shop and carport roofs now hold 44 solar modules, which make electricity from the sun’s energy and produce 50% of Burton Auto’s electrical usage year-round. Artisan Electric completed the installation over the Christmas holidays, just in time to celebrate Burton Auto’s 30th anniversary serving the Vashon community.

Half Way Through Buildout

Ann’s story is becoming increasingly common in Washington State. Homeowners, businesses and utilities are turning to solar power not just as the next green technology, but as a smart financial investment. A whole raft of state and federal incentives can make the return on investment for solar as quick as five years. That’s over twice as fast as the twelve-year national average. Solar largely pencils out in Washington State because of the state’s generous production incentive, which will pay solar owners up to five times more for their solar power they are currently paying PSE for conventional power.

Other local and national incentives include a 30% federal tax credit for homeowners and businesses, state sales tax exemptions, accelerated appreciation for businesses, and “net metering”. Net metering allows solar producers to store their excess production on the grid, spinning their meter backwards and giving them a credit for unused power that they can then use at a later date. That’s particularly useful for storing power during Seattle’s sunny summer months to be used during our dreary winter days.

To fully take advantage of the closing incentive window, timing was an important factor in deciding to solarize the auto shop this year. Solar prices have dropped by almost 75% since 2007, while many of the state and federal incentives are going away or begin diminishing in 2016.

Ann and her husband Don were motivated by more than just the incentives, however; they also wanted to make a statement about the company’s environmental commitment. While the state’s energy portfolio as a whole includes hydroelectric and wind power, currently Vashon’s electricity comes from 24% coal, 25% natural gas, and 2% nuclear. By eliminating some or all of a building’s need for power from their utilities, solar owners are combating climate change, stabilizing the grid, and augmenting the inherent risks of fouled energy sources.


To celebrate their 30th anniversary milestone and answer questions about the solar array, Burton Auto is throwing a Spring party on Friday, April 3rd, at 6pm. Everyone is invited to come by the First Friday event for free food, music and mingling. Owners of both Artisan Electric and Burton Auto families will be available to chat.

Artisan has also announced it’s 2015 schedule for the Solarize Vashon workshop series. The first workshop will be held at the Vashon Land Trust building on Wednesday, February 11th, at 6pm. Two more workshops follow on Saturday, February 21st and 28th at 11am. To register, visit SolarizeVashon.com.

Looking Northwest

 About Artisan Electric, Inc.

Artisan Electric is a full service commercial and residential electrical contractor specializing in solar electric system design and installation. Founded on Vashon in 2007, Artisan has expanded to a company of over 40 professionals and have moved our main office to the historic Georgetown area of South Seattle.

At Artisan Electric, we believe that clean and efficient energy should be easy, accessible and beautiful. Since 2007, we have helped shape the Puget Sound’s energy future by educating communities, simplifying processes and creating energy solutions that are both practical and elegant.

Having installed over 2MW of solar power, Artisan is one of the largest and most respected solar contractors in the region. Through our cutting-edge solar, electrical and efficiency services, we are proud to set industry standards for quality, design and customer service.

Bringing our integrated approach and signature craftsmanship to every project, we continue to prove that clean energy can fit seamlessly into your life, your style and your long-term goals.

Artisan Electric Inc.

969 South Nebraska Street, Ste. A

Seattle WA 98108

Phone: 206.557.4215

Web: devartisan.wpengine.com

Email: info@artisanelectricinc.com


Burton Auto

Ann and Don Starr

23919 Vashon Highway SW

Vashon, WA 98070

Phone: 206.463.2707

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