Seattle City Light, Woodland Park Zoo to Power Carousel with Sun

In partnership with Seattle City Light, Woodland Park Zoo will install solar panels this month on the roof of the carousel pavilion located on the zoo’s North Meadow.

Soon you will have the sun to thank next time you take a ride on the historic carousel at Woodland Park Zoo.

In partnership with Seattle City Light, Woodland Park Zoo will install solar panels this month on the roof of the carousel pavilion located on the zoo’s North Meadow. To accommodate construction, the carousel will be closed to visitors starting Jan. 18 and will reopen to riders in early February.

Woodland Park Zoo's carousel -- photo by Ryan Hawk

The solar panels are expected to produce 9,000 kilowatt-hours annually, enough to offset the electricity required to power the carousel, which completes an average 100,000 rides per year. The project also serves as a model for renewable energy options for local homeowners; according to City Light, 9,000 kilowatt-hours is also the annual amount of electricity needed to power the average Seattle home.

“Seattle may be known as ‘Rain City,’ but solar does work here,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “We’re excited to support this solar carousel project, to demonstrate very publicly how solar energy options are viable for both home and business use in our community.”

The solar carousel project is made possible by a generous $70,000 grant from City Light’s green power program, which is funded by voluntary contributions from customers in support of renewable energy education. This is the third partnership for renewable energy between City Light and Woodland Park Zoo, including City Light’s support of solar panels in the Family Farm and the sustainable geothermal energy unit installed in the zoo’s award-winning penguin exhibit.

“We’re grateful to City Light for their support in helping us to engage visitors in conservation by modeling ways to reduce human impact on our natural resources,” said Bruce Bohmke, zoo Chief Operating Officer. “At Woodland Park Zoo, we are constantly trying to improve our own environmental performance and are dedicated to being the community’s most exciting, living showcase of sustainability.”

As a trusted community resource in conservation leadership, Woodland Park Zoo is committed to sustainable operations made possible through public and private partnerships. Using a data-driven approach, Woodland Park Zoo has formally adopted a sustainability plan focused on reducing zoo greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1999 levels by 2012 and 20 percent by 2020. The zoo has served as an industry leader in sustainability with feature projects including Zoomazium, the first zoo project in North America to receive LEED gold certification, and the sustainably built Humboldt penguin exhibit that saves more than 3 million gallons of water annually.

Continued efforts to advance the zoo’s sustainable resource use include increasing renewable and efficient energy on zoo grounds, encouraging green transportation options to the zoo, reducing stormwater runoff and water waste, committing to organic horticultural practices, expanding composting and recycling efforts including the Zoo Doo compost program, and educating zoo visitors on sustainable options at home.

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.

For more information about sustainability at Woodland Park Zoo, visit http://www.zoo.org/greenzoo or call 206.548.2500. For more information about Seattle City Light renewable energy programs, visit http://www.seattle.gov/light/green/greenpower/.