City Light Staff Help Third-Graders with Solar Energy Project

Renewable Energy Outreach Coordinator Jack Newman meets with third-graders at John Stanford International School in Wallingford.

Seattle City Light employees met with third-graders at John Stanford International School in Wallingford recently to discuss the students’ project related to global warming and climate change.

While City Light gets 90 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable hydropower and the utility has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, worldwide production of electricity from coal- and gas-powered plants is the leading contributor of carbon dioxide emissions.

At the Stanford school, teacher Margie Butcher challenged her students to propose a strategy with the aim of addressing this concern. The strategy the students picked was to support the installation of solar panels.

Jack Newman and Suzanne DuRard from City Light’s Conservation Resources Division met with the class to discuss the utility’s clean energy fuel mix, renewable energy programs and recently completed solar energy projects, including Community Solar and Sonic Bloom. Students also asked about state financial incentives for the installation of solar panels; the economics of installing solar panels at your home or business; and the challenges of maintaining the electricity distribution network as more people generate their own solar electricity.

“The students were very alert, with each group’s selected note-taker thoughtfully recording notes throughout my presentation,” Newman said. “It was an honor to talk with and learn from such engaged 3rd graders. I am proud of their focus to support renewable energy in Seattle.”

With residential solar installations on the increase, Seattle City Light’s customers are eager to learn more about renewable energy and how their utility will position itself in the new landscape of distributed generation. Jack Newman’s work as renewable energy outreach coordinator serves as one response to this growing demand for solar energy education and community engagement. As the Nation’s Greenest Utility, Seattle City Light is learning every day about the community’s interest in renewable energy, which was highlighted in the John Stanford International School’s solar energy student projects.

Seattle City Light, Seattle Aquarium Celebrate Solar Project Success

City Councilmember Mike O’Brien shares his enthusiasm for renewable energy at the Community Solar celebration.

Dozens of solar electricity investors joined City Light and the Seattle Aquarium today, to celebrate the successful installation of the largest solar array at any aquarium on the West Coast as part of the utility’s Community Solar and Green Up programs.

“Investing in alternative energy is an important element of the aquarium’s vision, and fits perfectly with our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment” aquarium President and CEO Robert Davidson said. “Using clean, green energy supports healthy marine ecosystems by reducing our facility’s carbon footprint. It also supports one of the Aquarium’s key messages: that everyone can make a difference in the preservation of Puget Sound and our one world ocean.”

NW Wind & Solar of Seattle installed the $330,000 system, which covers a large portion of the south side of the Seattle Aquarium’s roof. The 247 panels for the 49.4 kilowatt system were purchased from Marysville-based Silicon Energy, promoting more green jobs in Western Washington.

Most of the panels produce electricity on behalf of 187 City Light customers who bought 1,800 units of solar power through the utility’s Community Solar program. The rest of the panels serve 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 cost $150.

This is Seattle City Light’s second Community Solar project. The first was installed in Beacon Hill at Jefferson Park in 2012.

“Community Solar demonstrates Seattle City Light’s commitment to meeting the energy needs of our customers in an environmentally sustainable manner and shows why we call ourselves The Nation’s Greenest Utility,” City Light Chief of Staff Sephir Hamilton said.

“This innovative project lets customers promote and benefit from solar even if they rent, have shady roofs or can’t make the big investment of installing their own solar system,” Hamilton said. “When customers invest in solar, they also think harder about reducing their own electricity use in order to make the most of their solar production credits.”

Participants receive credit on their City Light accounts for their portions of the solar panels’ output through 2020 along with all state production incentives. Together, those credits amount to $1.15 per kilowatt-hour. City Light estimates that participants will receive more than $150 worth of electricity and production incentives for each unit purchased by the end of their agreements. Details are available online.

“As soon as I found out about this program I was excited about the opportunity to participate in solar even though I live in a multi-family building,” said Gina Hicks, who purchased the maximum 125 units. “I knew how attractive it would be to renters and people who live in buildings like mine where it’s difficult to get their own solar arrays installed. I’ve been spreading the word about Community Solar ever since.”

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.