Solar Energy Conservation Costs, Incentives, and Install | Energy Solutions

Solar Energy

Costs, Incentives, and Installation Basics

Performance and Typical Costs:

A residential solar electric system installed in an unshaded site typically generates about 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year for each kW installed. Currently in Seattle, the average residential solar electric system size is 7kW. This represents an investment of about $24,000 before incentives or taxes. Generally, the larger the system, the lower the cost per kW installed.


Federal tax credits, City Light net metering, and WA-State Production Incentives administered through the WSU Energy Program may improve the economics of your investment.

7 Steps to Solar Energy Installation

Step 1: Assess your Property and current electric service
Adding a solar system is considered a modification to your service and may require additional work to bring the existing equipment up to today’s code requirements. Beginning work without an assessment may result in additional cost and delays. To alleviate this, Seattle City Light can do a free, on-site assessment of your existing electric service to determine if it is in compliance with current codes. Locate your Electric Service Representative here or by calling the intake desk at 206-233-2777.

Step 2: Obtain bids and choose A solar contractor
We recommend obtaining a minimum of three (3) bids. There are many contractors to choose from, and while City Light does not endorse or refer contractors, Solar Installers of Washington maintains a list of possible qualified installers for your consideration.

Step 3: Complete these documents

Apply for interconnection by filling out an Application for Electric Service prior to system installation. As part of this document, you will need to submit a Level 1 Interconnection Agreement.

If you are planning an installation in any of the Seattle City Light Network Service Areas, your installation has battery backup, or your installation is larger than 10kW, your application will be reviewed by our Network Engineering Department, which can add additional time to the interconnection approval process. Network installations may also require special equipment. To determine if your project is located in a network area please download a network map.

Step 4: Obtain permits
Have your system permitted, installed and inspected by your local permitting jurisdiction. In Seattle, contact the Department of Construction and Inspections.

Step 5: Apply for incentives
Apply for state production incentives through the WSU Energy Program. Pay a $125 initial application fee.

Step 6: Claim your tax credit
On your next federal income tax return, claim your renewable energy tax credit (review system qualifications and credit amounts here).

Step 7: Receive your annual incentive
City Light will measure and finalize your annual production with WSU and send you a check for your production-based financial incentive. Legacy solar customers (installed prior to October 1, 2017) will recieve their production-based financial incentive by December 15. New customers (installed after October 1, 2017 or later) will receive incentive payments within 90 days of City Light receiving the verified incentive totals from the WSU Energy Program.

Additional Resources:

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For more information about customer generated renewable energy, contact an Energy Advisor today.