Dozens of solar electricity investors joined City Light and the Seattle Aquarium today, to celebrate the successful installation of the largest solar array at any aquarium on the West Coast as part of the utility’s Community Solar and Green Up programs.
“Investing in alternative energy is an important element of the aquarium’s vision, and fits perfectly with our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment” aquarium President and CEO Robert Davidson said. “Using clean, green energy supports healthy marine ecosystems by reducing our facility’s carbon footprint. It also supports one of the Aquarium’s key messages: that everyone can make a difference in the preservation of Puget Sound and our one world ocean.”
NW Wind & Solar of Seattle installed the $330,000 system, which covers a large portion of the south side of the Seattle Aquarium’s roof. The 247 panels for the 49.4 kilowatt system were purchased from Marysville-based Silicon Energy, promoting more green jobs in Western Washington.
Most of the panels produce electricity on behalf of 187 City Light customers who bought 1,800 units of solar power through the utility’s Community Solar program. The rest of the panels serve as a demonstration project through the utility’s voluntary Green Up renewable energy program with the electricity produced helping to power the Aquarium’s operations.
Each 24 watt unit of the solar installation cost $150.
This is Seattle City Light’s second Community Solar project. The first was installed in Beacon Hill at Jefferson Park in 2012.
“Community Solar demonstrates Seattle City Light’s commitment to meeting the energy needs of our customers in an environmentally sustainable manner and shows why we call ourselves The Nation’s Greenest Utility,” City Light Chief of Staff Sephir Hamilton said.
“This innovative project lets customers promote and benefit from solar even if they rent, have shady roofs or can’t make the big investment of installing their own solar system,” Hamilton said. “When customers invest in solar, they also think harder about reducing their own electricity use in order to make the most of their solar production credits.”
Participants receive credit on their City Light accounts for their portions of the solar panels’ output through 2020 along with all state production incentives. Together, those credits amount to $1.15 per kilowatt-hour. City Light estimates that participants will receive more than $150 worth of electricity and production incentives for each unit purchased by the end of their agreements. Details are available online.
“As soon as I found out about this program I was excited about the opportunity to participate in solar even though I live in a multi-family building,” said Gina Hicks, who purchased the maximum 125 units. “I knew how attractive it would be to renters and people who live in buildings like mine where it’s difficult to get their own solar arrays installed. I’ve been spreading the word about Community Solar ever since.”
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.