Seattle City Light has launched a new solar and green power program that sets out a bold new approach to bringing renewables to Seattle. The ‘Community Solar’ program will ask customers to participate directly in new solar projects. The expanded ‘Customer Generation’ program will encourage customers to install solar projects, and is designed to dramatically expand the amount of renewable resources installed at homes and offices.
Community Solar gives customers the opportunity to receive credits on energy produced from solar photovoltaic arrays that will be owned and operated by City Light. City Light will install these photovoltaics on community facilities, beginning with an initial 24 kilowatt project at Jefferson Park, and expanding as fast as City Light can sign up customers to invest in the project. Customers who purchase shares in the project will get the benefits of net metering at the facility and will also share the rebates that the State provides as incentives to install solar projects. Because this program is open to all City Light customers, allows small-scale investments, and will accept participants based on a lottery conducted among those who apply, it will encourage wide spread participation in renewables investment.
The new marketing program for Customer Generation will offer provide similar incentives to encourage businesses and residents to install solar generation on property they own. Solar installations require significant upfront investments, and City Light will assist customers in developing plans to make these investments, install the photovoltaics, and secure the incentives.
City Light is retiring its existing Green Power program, which collected funds on a voluntary basis from customers to support the development of smaller scale, local renewable energy projects that increase awareness, improve operations, and create demand through demonstration and education. Green Power supported the installation of 30 solar projects, 13 of them at schools. City Light will continue to offer its Green Up program, which encourages customers to invest in large scale renewable installations through voluntary contributions on their City Light bills. Some 2000 customers currently participate in Green Power and more than 11,000 in Green Up.
City Light projects that by 2014, 25,000 customers will participate in the Green Up program, while the Customer Generation program will grow from just over 1 megawatt of installed capacity in 2010 to 10 megawatts by 2014. City Light estimates that 1000 people will participate in the Community Solar program and 1500 customers will have installed their own solar modules under the Customer Generation program.
Seattle City Light is currently looking for investors for the first Community Solar project at Jefferson Park. All Seattle City Light customers have the opportunity to enroll in Community Solar as a founding member until the project is fully funded. Customers may purchase a solar ‘unit’ for $600 (maximum of two per household). In return, customers will receive energy credits on their bill for the portion of the solar electricity generated thru 2020, which should cover most of the financial outlay. In addition, the 500 founding member’s names will be permanently displayed at the Community Solar project at Jefferson Park, and will have helped create a new energy future for our community.
For more information or to enroll in Seattle Community Solar, you can download an application at:
Or call 206-684-3800 (translation services available).
Solar energy in Seattle is on its way towards being commercially competitive. This program is a great transition towards making that a reality.