Solar Energy Community Programs Information | Energy Solutions

Community Solar FAQs



in 2012, Seattle City Light became one of the first utilities in the nation to offer a Community Solar program. The program provided an easy and affordable way for customers to add clean solar energy to the power grid and receive financial benefits, without owning a solar system. Through a shared renewable energy project, program members pooled resources to provide solar power from a collective community space. This program provided an option to “go solar” for people who didn’t own a home, had too much shade, or wanted to avoid the large upfront costs of rooftop solar installation. Today, there are 1300 participants and four Community Solar projects – Jefferson Park, Seattle Aquarium, Phinney Ridge/Woodland Park Zoo and Capital Hill Ecodistrict – throughout our service territory.

For as little as $150, community solar participants became part of a pioneering group moving Seattle toward a cleaner, renewable energy future while receiving financial benefits – an annual credit through 2020 for the amount of electricity generated by each project participant’s portion of the community solar array.

Yes! Despite Seattle’s cloudy reputation, solar power has solid potential in this region. Research has confirmed that the greatest barrier to solar energy use is not climate – it’s awareness, planning, infrastructure, and economics.

There have been four community solar projects completed to date. These projects are closed for participation. Should Seattle City Light decide to build additional community solar projects, any City Light customer will be eligible to participate.

That’s right! One of the many benefits of participating in Seattle City Light’s Community Solar program is that anyone with a City Light electric bill is eligible to purchase “solar units”, which equal a portion of a Community Solar project.

The cost of solar units in our 2013 and 2014 projects at the Seattle Aquarium, Phinney Ridge and Capitol Hill was $150/solar unit. A solar unit is the virtual piece of the solar array that is available for purchase. Customers were able to purchase any number of solar units between 1 and 125. Seattle City Light is committed to keeping the price of entry low for future projects to ensure affordability.

  1. Jefferson Park – Beacon Hill: Approximately 25,000 kWh / year.
  2. Seattle Aquarium: Over 50,000 kwH / year.
  3. Phinney Ridge – Two locations
  4. Capitol Hill EcoDistrict – 27,000 kwH / year.

Yes. Participants receive annual production incentive credits through 2020 from Seattle City Light and the Washington State Renewable Production Incentive Program (as allowed) for their portion of the electricity generated. The credit is applied each year between August and October, depending on where each customer falls in the billing cycle.

Current production incentives are as follows:

  • Washington State: currently $0.78/kWh* through 2020

The Community Solar program ends in June 2020 to coincide with the current end date for Washington State Renewable Energy Production Incentives which represent the state-funded portion of energy credits. At that time, the community solar arrays will continue to produce energy and ownership will be transferred to the host site.

Currently, all Community Solar projects are sold out. But City Light is working hard to launch new projects. Check back often for hot (pun intended) Community Solar news.

Questions? Contact an Energy Advisor at 206.684.3800 or SCLEnergyAdvisor@seattle.gov.

Yes. So far, charges for solar unit(s) have been divided into two equal installments payable on the two bills following your enrollment. Once the charge is added to the bill, you can pay by check, credit card or electronic funds transfer from your bank account. Moving forward, we intend to retain on-bill payment to make it as easy as possible for our Community Solar customers.

Yes, however due to physical space limitations, number of participants, and location of the solar array, recognition opportunities may vary by Community Solar project.

No. Participation in Seattle City Light Community Solar is a purchase of a portion of a solar electric system that provides annual bill credits – it is not a donation. Seattle City Light is a municipal corporation and does not qualify as a charitable organization.

Yes. If you move within the Seattle City Light service area, you are able to transfer the solar benefits to your new account. If you move out of the Seattle City Light service area, you can designate another Seattle City Light account to receive the benefits.

No. Seattle City Light takes care of everything so that you don’t have the hassle of filling out multiple applications. Through Washington State’s generous Community Solar production incentive, we automatically apply your prorated incentive as credits on your utility bill once a year through 2020.

No. All of the insurance, warranty, management and maintenance for the solar electric system is included in the initial price. As a customer, you will not pay any additional out-of-pocket fees.

Every Community Solar participant’s solar units are part of large solar arrays comprised of solar panels which share a production meter. Each participant’s utility bill is credited back at a portion of the solar array’s production, depending on the number of solar units each customer owns.

 

Learn about all things Community Solar by talking with a Seattle City Light Energy Advisor.

Email: SCLEnergyAdvisor@seattle.gov
Phone: 206-684-3800 (translation services available)