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Seattle Utility Powers Aquarium With Community Solar

Community solarSeattle City Light, the city’s utility company, announced that it will install what will be the largest solar array at any West Coast aquarium this fall, when it puts up a 49 kilowatt project for Seattle Aquarium, as part of it’s community solar program. Through the program, utility customers that don’t want to install their own system can contribute towards community solar and receive credit on their bills until 2020.

The bulk of the panels will produce electricity on behalf of City Light customers who want to buy solar power through the utility’s community solar program. The rest of the panels are being installed as a demonstration project through the utility’s voluntary Green Up renewable energy program, with the electricity produced helping to power the Aquarium’s operations.

Each 24 watt unit of the solar installation will cost $150 and customers can buy up to 125 units.  Participants receive credit on their bills for their portion of the solar panels’ output through 2020 along with all state production incentives. Together, those credits amount to $1.15 per kWh. City Light says participants will receive more than $150 worth of electricity and production incentives for each unit purchased by the end of their agreements. The solar project will cost about $330,000 to install.

The concept of community solar is catching on in other parts of the US. In February, community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) broke ground on a Boulder, Colo., community-owned solar garden.

A community solar garden permits residential and business customers to buy solar modules to handle their electric load without having to install the modules on their own property. CEC’s solar model is designed for commercial and residential customers for whom on-site renewable energy systems are not an option. They may lease their space, live in multi-unit dwellings, have homes or businesses that aren’t suitable for solar installations, or lack the financial capacity to install a system on-site.

City Light has also partnered with Microsoft and the city of Seattle and its utility Seattle City Light as part of the Seattle 2030 District’s goal to help downtown property owners reduce their energy use 50 percent by 2030.

Image credit: Seattle City Light

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