Seattle City Light Community Solar Project Begins Generating Electricity

Seattle City Light completed installation of its first Community Solar project today and started generating renewable energy from the power of the sun for hundreds of customers who purchased a portion of the project’s output.

Founding Members celebrate the installation of the Community Solar project at Jefferson Park.

Seattle City Light completed installation of its first Community Solar project today and started generating renewable energy from the power of the sun for hundreds of customers who purchased a portion of the project’s output.

“This Community Solar project is another way Seattle City Light is helping our community make sustainable energy choices,” City Councilmember Mike O’Brien said. “It eliminates some of the barriers for people who want solar energy but can’t install panels at their home or business.”

City Light customers can buy a portion of the output from the project for $600 each. These Founding Members also receive all state incentives for the solar energy production. The project’s 500 portions are nearly sold out. Details and an application are available online at http://sclpandevo/light/Solar/community.asp

“Even with our Rain City reputation, solar works in Seattle,” City Light Conservation Resources Director Glenn Atwood said. “This project is estimated to produce 24,000 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity each year. That’s enough to run three households.”

The Community Solar project was developed with the help of a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Money invested in the project by Founding Member customers will help fund a second project in the future. Equipment for the project was purchased from Silicon Energy in Marysville, supporting green jobs in Washington.

“I’m very happy to be a part of this program,” said Robert Hinrix of Beacon Hill, one of the project’s founding members. “I’ve been a longtime supporter of alternative energy, going back 30 years almost. This is a way I can put my money where my beliefs are and make something happen. I encourage all of my neighbors and fellow citizens of Seattle to consider it.”

An added bonus the project provides to visitors at Jefferson Park comes from its innovative design.

Rather than attaching solar panels on an existing structure, Seattle City Light designed the Community Solar project so the panels are the roofs of three new picnic shelters. This is the first installation of its kind that City Light is aware of. Jefferson Park users have sought covered picnic areas for more than a decade, but tight budgets had kept the Seattle Parks Department from providing them until now.

“By working together, Parks and City Light were able to create a project with multiple benefits for program participants and the community at large,” O’Brien said. “I congratulate them and the hundreds of people who invested in this project to make it happen.”

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.