Won’t you be my solar-panel-buying neighbor?

Alex Sawyer, with Solarize Washington, points to a color-coded solar resource map of the U.S. and a map of a European country in the corner. Washington state is dark blue, Southern California and New Mexico dark red. The big question, Sawyer explains to the rapt audience at a community center, is does solar work in gray Western Washington?

The answer is yes. Germany, she says, is also color-coded dark blue. They have 15 percent less annual sun than the Puget Sound.

“But they’ve bested us by far in how much solar they’ve been able to install with that resource. The reason for that is not because Germany is the sunniest place in the world. It’s because Germany has great incentives.” Solar has become accessible she says, it’s the norm. “As such, awareness has really skyrocketed about solar as an option.”

Solarize Washington is partnering with community groups to spread the word about solar and build critical mass to capitalize on group discounts. The goal is to make solar more accessible here. “There’s a couple of benefits we see about the way we run our program,” Sawyer says. “One is the trust factor. People are generally overwhelmed with being sold things, and this is much less of a sales program and more of a community education program with an end goal of installing solar.”


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Appeared in Crosscut.com on February 13, 2013.

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