Affordable solar program expands across Seattle

By Douglas Reiser

Seattle is making solar power accessible. Through a number of new measures, Seattle is pulling more and more users off the grid and allowing them to be self-sustainable. One of the most impressive projects – Solarize Seattle.

Early this week, the Seattle City Council announced passage of the City’s Community Solar Program. Community Solar lets customers “buy” solar power which will offset their City Light power bills, through a credit. The program works by allowing consumers to purchase interests in a solar photovoltaic array owned and operated by City Light at a number of parks and public areas in Seattle. The first installation will be completed at Jefferson Park in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.

But today, I am more interested in the Solarize Seattle program. Solarize Seattle is not new, but its growth is the important news for the day. Back in January, I briefly chatted about the program’s launch in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. The gist is of the program: get reduced cost equipment through wholesale purchases and subsidized financing. Check out that article for more on the program.

Back in January, Solarize Seattle was getting started with its first neighborhood – Queen Anne. The program was successful and has now moved into the Magnolia neighborhood. Reiser Legal PLLC client Puget Sound Solar LLC (for full disclosure) has been awarded the installation contract and will partner with Sustainable Magnolia and Northwest SEED in Solarize Seattle’s newest photovoltaic endeavor.

According to Puget Sound Solar and its performance division Sound Home Performance, Magnolia will be the focus of “an intense outreach and educational effort designed to familiarize as many neighbors as possible with the benefits of and possibilities for solar energy production in their homes, and to offer them a chance to purchase these systems from a trusted source at reduced prices.” The next step is to join the team for a free introductory workshop. Here are the dates:

Wednesday, August 24 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Discovery Park ELC
Saturday, September 24 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Magnolia Library
Thursday, October 20 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Discovery Park ELC

Solarize Seattle is a big deal. The program will bring affordable and reliable solar power to a large number of Seattle homes over the course of the next few years. I am extremely hopeful that the program expands to small businesses and commercial parks. I think that there is a large private business interest in going solar, and Solarize Seattle can help facilitate a commercial investment in solar.

There are plans to expand into the 3rd and 4th neighborhoods shortly. Consumers – and contractors – who are interested in the program should stay tuned to the Solarize Seattle website for more information on how to get involved.

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Appeared in The Builders Counsel Blog on August 12, 2011.

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