Two great opportunities for converting all this glorious sunshine into usable electricity have popped up this summer, making it easier than ever to go solar. Solarize Seattle, a group purchasing program that is making solar panels mainstream one neighborhood at a time, is now coming to Central and Southeast Seattle:
Solar energy is currently powering hundreds of Seattle homes, and residents of Montlake, Capitol Hill, the Central District, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, and other central and southeast Seattle neighborhoods are about to get a special opportunity to add their rooftops to our city’s growing solar array. Through a nonprofit-led program called Solarize Seattle, homes and small businesses can qualify for special pricing and take advantage of many incentives that make solar installations more affordable than ever.
Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED) and Seattle City Light are working with several community groups to launch Solarize Seattle: Central/Southeast, a solar energy education and installation program that starts today and runs through October. The program will be co-led by a community coalition of local volunteers, which will spearhead neighborhood outreach. Supporting organizations include Sustainable Seattle, Sustainable Capitol Hill, and Sustainable Central District.
The campaign features a group-buy program that provides a streamlined process for residents and small businesses to purchase solar systems for a discounted price. Participants learn how solar works in Seattle, how it is installed, what tax and production incentives are available to bring the price down, and how low-interest financing can spread out the cost. The limited-time campaign intends to install over 200 kilowatts of solar energy in central and southeast Seattle by the end of 2013.
Through a competitive bidding process, the Solarize Seattle: Central/Southeast Community Coalition selected Puget Sound Solar and Artisan Electric as the project’s solar installation team. These contractors will offer solar systems at discounted rates to project participants.
Solarize Seattle: Central/Southeast will be the seventh campaign of Northwest SEED’s Solarize Washington program (www.solarizewa.org). Northwest SEED’s four campaigns in Seattle have resulted in over 1 MW of solar added to the city’s electric grid. To date, Solarize Washington campaigns have educated over 1,750 people at public workshops, encouraged nearly 300 residents to install solar on their homes, and injected more than $7.5 million into the local solar economy.
Registration for Solarize Seattle: Central/Southeast opens Monday, July 8. Registration is open to Seattle residents who live in the geographic area bordered by the Montlake cut to the north, I-5 to the west, Lake Washington to the east, and the City of Seattle boundary to the south. Free educational workshops will be held on Jul. 23, Aug. 15, Aug. 27, and Sep. 18. For more information, visit www.solarizewa.org.
Better than discounted solar panels are free solar panels, which the Solarize Seattle program is offering to community organizations with an available facility:
Qualifying community organizations must be located in central or southeast Seattle neighborhoods, must own their building or have a minimum 10-year lease, must be open and inclusive in engaging diverse community members, and provide a highly visible site with good access for the public to see and learn about the solar energy system.
The donated solar electric system will be rated at 3 kilowatts (kW) and will include all equipment and labor required for a rooftop installation, in addition to 10 years of maintenance service (the system itself has a life expectancy of at least 25 years). The award of a 3 kW solar installation is approximately a $15,000 value for the installation and an additional value of up to $750 per year in electricity savings and Washington State production incentive payments.
The Request for Applications can be found at www.solarizewa.org. The deadline for submitting an application is August 15, 2013.