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Seattle City Light, aquarium start work on community solar project


From the October 16, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published October 16, 2013

Seattle City Light and the Seattle Aquarium announced the start of construction early this month for the largest solar array at any aquarium on the West Coast as part of the utility’s Community Solar and Green Up programs.

"Part of the vision of the Seattle Aquarium is to invest in alternative energy," said Aquarium President and CEO Robert W. Davidson. "Operating sustainably will help fulfill our mission of 'inspiring conservation of our marine environment,' and this is an important step in that direction."

NW Wind & Solar of Seattle is installing the $330,000 system, which will cover a large portion of the south side of the aquarium’s roof. The 247 panels for the 49.4-kilowatt system are being purchased from Silicon Energy of Marysville, Wash.

The project, to be installed on the Seattle Aquarium, above, is expected to be the biggest solar array at any West Coast aquarium, City Light said. Photo courtesy of Seattle City Light

City Light said most of the panels will produce electricity on behalf of 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.

Only a few of the 1,800 units of the Community Solar portion of the project are still available, City Light said. Each 24-watt unit of the solar installation costs $150.

"We’re excited to start construction," said City Light Conservation Resources Director Glenn Atwood. "Customer demand for participation in the Community Solar project has been strong. We’re looking forward to generating electricity from the power of the sun on their behalf soon."

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 at www.seattle.gov/communitysolar.

"The aquarium community solar system is a great deal," said Gina Hicks of Capitol Hill, who purchased the maximum 125 units. "So easy, so smart, I couldn't pass it up. I've been telling everyone to get a piece. I can't wait for it to get installed so I can go online and see the power it's generating."

Seattle City Light has been greenhouse gas-neutral since 2005 and is the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

 

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