Award-Winning Green Up Community Program is Now Accepting Applications for New Solar Power Projects

Seattle City Light and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s (WSHFC) Sustainable Energy Trust were selected as 2021 Green Power Leadership Award winners by the Center for Resource Solutions. The award recognizes the two agencies for removing barriers for low- and moderate-income communities to install solar with affordable financing through WSHFC’s Sustainable Energy Trust combined with incentives from the Green Up Community Program.  

Earlier this year, the Green Up Community Program selected 13 local public or non-profit affordable housing providers to become part of Green Up’s renewable energy resource portfolio through their installation of new rooftop solar projects. We are pleased to announce that applications are now open to a broader audience, including public entities, tribal governments, non-profits, and academic institutions. Qualified organizations are encouraged to apply now for incentives and affordable financing to install solar on their buildings.  

Green Up Community is funded from City Light’s voluntary renewable energy credit (REC) purchasing program called Green Up. Customer contributions into Green Up are now bringing solar projects to their communities, helping reduce operating costs with solar energy, allowing local non-profits and public entities to focus on their respective missions to provide quality services 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 for local nonprofits and qualifying organizations. To learn more about financing options, see their flyer or visit their website. Eligible applicants may choose to take advantage of this joint funding opportunity with WSHFC and City Light, but are not required to participate in both programs. 

If you are a public entity, tribal government, non-profit or academic institution and are planning to install rooftop solar, apply now! 

If you still have questions about the City Light Green Up Community Program, find answers to frequently asked 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 up to $1500 per kW installed (DC nameplate). 

What are the program 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 501(c)3 non-profits, academic institutions, tribal government or public entities 
  • Projects must be located within Seattle City Light’s service area 
  • Projects must be planned to apply for permit or be completed in the 2022 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.  

Who is eligible? 

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

  • Non-profit 501(c)3 organizations* 
  • Public entities 
  • Tribal governments 
  • Academic institutions 

*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.  

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 
  • New construction 

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. 

How will applications be evaluated? 

Applications will be evaluated and scored according to project readiness (40%), community benefits (40%), and the amount of funding requested (20%). In the project readiness category, applicants will be evaluated based on stated timelines, project status, and capacity to manage the project. For community benefits, we’ll be looking at the community impact of the project, such as promoting access to renewables, meeting environmental goals, or service to the community. Projects that are more cost effective (e.g. those that request less funding) will also receive extra points in evaluation. 

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. 

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

Yes! This round of funding will consider applications from any public or 501(c)3 non-profit with facilities located within Seattle City Light’s service area. 

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. You have 12 months to finish after the permit application. 

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 is live. Projects will be reviewed by a committee and awarded in the first quarter of 2022. 

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