With help from Pacific Power, the Del Norte Triplicate will harness the sun to help power its printing plant in Smith River.

Using a $60,000 grant from Pacific Power, the Triplicate will install three 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panels at its Smith River printing plant. The company awarded the grant through its Blue Sky renewable energy program. According to Monte Mendenhall, Pacific Power's regional community manager, the grant was made possible through individual customers who paid into the Blue Sky Program.

The Triplicate's solar installation will be the fourth project in Del Norte County that Pacific Power has helped build, Mendenhall said. Other Pacific Power installations include rooftop solar panels at Crescent Elk Middle School and Sunset High School and solar panels at Casa Fuschia garden on Iowa Street.

Once the solar panels are installed, the Triplicate will be analyzing their performance and reporting back to Pacific Power, said Publisher Michele Thomas. The Triplicate will also be doing a lot of educational outreach once its solar panels are up and running.

"We want to be able to give tours," Thomas said. "To give people an opportunity to see, 'here's what I can get.' That's a big part of why we want to be a part of this."

Each 3-kilowatt solar panel is capable of powering an individual home, said Clarke Moore, a consultant with Alternative Energy Systems, who will help install the Triplicate's solar panels.

Currently the printing plant uses 71,840 kilowatt hours of energy a year, according to Thomas. Installing the solar panels will allow the Triplicate to reduce its energy consumption by about 12,000 watts, Thomas said. This will result in a savings of about $150 a month, she said.

The Triplicate hopes to get started on the project by early next year, she said.

"The Triplicate's really excited that we could be considered for a project like this," Thomas said, adding that the newspaper is also a Blue Sky customer. "We're really excited about this opportunity."

About 6 percent of Pacific Power's customers take advantage of its Blue Sky program, Mendenhall said. Participants can purchase 100 kilowatt hours of renewable energy blocks for $1.95 a month. Pacific Power also contributes toward habitat restoration in local streams through the Blue Sky program, he said.

"Our website shows all the sites where all improvements take place," he said.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.