Cost-Effective Solar Power for Local Nonprofits and Affordable Housing – Green Up Community Program

Solar Panels and Flower

GREEN UP COMMUNITY IS NOT ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS AT THIS TIME. We will announce when we are accepting applications again.

Seattle City Light and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s (WSHFC) Sustainable Energy Trust are partnering to bring cost-effective solar power to affordable housing and qualifying nonprofit facilities via the City Light Green Up Community Program.

Green Up Community, Seattle City Light’s local renewable energy credit (REC) purchasing program, is making a difference with your Green Up contributions and helping to bring solar projects to our community. Not only will the projects be local, they will benefit nonprofit and public affordable housing and low-income service providers by reducing their operating costs with solar energy, allowing them to focus on their respective missions to provide quality services, affordable housing, and meet the needs of our community.

This program was designed in collaboration with the WSHFC’s Sustainable Energy Trust, which can provide low-cost financing for solar installations to affordable housing organizations and other nonprofits. To learn more about financing options, see their flyer or visit their website.

If you still have questions about the City Light Green Up Community Program, find the answers to your questions below.  

What are the goals of the program?

The local REC Purchase program is intended to put Green Up dollars to work here in our community, by engaging organizations in an open, accessible application process. Solar funding will support vital community organizations as well as renewable energy businesses and jobs.

What kind of funding is available?

Green Up Local REC Providers will receive a lump sum payment at verified project completion for all the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) that will be generated in the first 60 months of operation. The payment amount is $1500 per kW installed (DC nameplate).

Basic eligibility requirements:

  • Projects must be new solar photovoltaic installations, or a new addition to an existing installation
  • Projects must be at least 30 kW DC
  • Projects must be hosted by non-profit or public affordable housing or other low-income service providers
  • Projects must be located within Seattle City Light’s service area
  • Projects must be planned to apply for permit or be completed in the 2021 calendar year
  • Projects must be installed by a qualified solar installer or renewable energy development contractor that is licensed, bonded and insured, and has the appropriate certifications and licenses in the local jurisdiction.
  • Projects must conform to L&I wage requirements and all local laws.
  • Installation must conform to all local, state, and federal building codes.

For detailed eligibility requirements, or to apply, please see the application (link).

Participant* Eligibility (Who is eligible?)

The following types of organizations are eligible to be Green Up REC Providers in the 2021 solicitation:

  • Public or non-profit affordable housing providers
  • Low-income service providers** that are tax-exempt organizations under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code

*Participants that are considered not-for-profit by the IRS may partner with a tax equity investor (as the solar owner) to leverage the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) as part of their financial model.

**”Low-income service provider” includes, but is not limited to, a local community action agency or local community service agency designated by the Washington State Department of Commerce under chapter 43.63A RCW, local housing authority, tribal housing authority, low-income tribal housing program, affordable housing provider, food bank, or other nonprofit organization that provides services to low-income households.

What types of projects are NOT eligible for Green Up Local REC Purchase?

  • Projects outside Seattle City Light’s service territory
  • Projects that do not produce electricity, such as passive solar or thermal solar
  • Off-grid projects
  • Projects that were completed in or before 2020

Besides solar, what other renewable energy projects may be eligible?

Solar photovoltaic is the only renewable energy type that will be considered. Thermal solar does not generate RECs.

What is site control?

The organization must own or have a long-term (at least 5 years) lease on the property and have permission to install solar.

What is revenue-grade production monitoring?

Equipment of accuracy rating within +/- 2%. Most solar inverter technology meets these requirements, but it is best to verify before installation.

What does “continuous access” mean?

City Light requires data authorization info, including log in information, to be shared with City Light’s 3rd party administrator.

Who is the 3rd Party REC admin?

City Light has contracted with the Bonneville Environmental Organization to register, administer, and transfer generated RECs on behalf of REC providers.

I am a public/non-profit but not specific to housing or low income, should I apply?

Not yet. The first solicitation is for low-income organizations and housing projects. If you are another type of public or non-profit organization and installing solar is upon the horizon for your organization, you should consider applying for the second solicitation in September 2021.

What if my project is delayed and doesn’t meet the estimated completion?

City Light will bring selected projects under contract at the time of permitting. Contracts will be valid up to 12 months after execution. From permit application you have 12 months to finish.

If my project is awarded, what are my obligations to Seattle City Light?

Projects must be capable of transferring the attributes (RECs) solely to Seattle City Light on behalf of the Green Up participants, with no commitment of the attributes to another party.

Projects must be equipped with revenue-grade monitoring equipment to collect and report electricity production, including a dedicated wireless internet connection. Applicants must provide continuous access to production data to both Seattle City Light and the 3rd party REC administrator for at least 60 months following construction.

Applicants must also abide by the communications guidelines in the agreement – because they are selling the renewable energy attributes (RECs) to Green Up, they may not make any public claim to be solar-powered or be using renewable energy. They may, however, promote their status as a Green Up REC Provider, how many kW are hosted on their facility, and describe how the net metering benefit helps lower their operating costs.

I need to demonstrate a financing commitment internally (or externally). What can City Light provide?

Projects selected for funding will be provided a letter of intent that is valid for 12 months from date of signature.

When can I apply?

The application will be live and accessible Jan 4. Eligible applications will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis until March 31 or funding is exhausted, whichever comes first.

Why does the application list energy load? Why the annual kWh consumption?

City Light uses this information to verify the load can support the minimum system size of 30 kW. City Light does not want to promote oversizing a system in order to qualify for the local REC purchase. If it is new construction, then the projected annual kWh load should match the estimated annual production of the solar installation.

Who can I contact if I’m having trouble with the application?

Shari Weir, Green Up Program Manager – shari.weir@seattle.gov