If you’ve thought about adding solar panels to your home but have been intimidated by the cost or knowledge needed to take advantage of the renewable energy source, Solarize Seattle is ready to help.
Solarize Seattle, a program of Northwest SEED, has teamed up with Sustainable Northeast Seattle to help area residents learn more about solar energy, and is helping them add solar more affordably through a program specifically for residents of Northeast Seattle. From the Solarize Seattle website:
“Solarize Seattle: Northeast will guide you through the process, joining you with your neighbors to realize cost savings through the group purchase of solar panels. And the best part — it’s easy to understand and easy to participate in!”
Interested residents in the 98105, 98115, and 98125 ZIP codes will be asked to register at the start of the new year, but there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about solar power in the interim:
- Solarize Seattle: Magnolia Workshop, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Magnolia Library: Join us to learn more about solar energy, the Solarize Seattle program, and how you can participate!
- Tour of Solar Homes, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at Umpqua Bank: Magnolia Branch and your neighborhood: Join energy enthusiasts across the country — take a free tour of the solar and energy efficient homes in your neighborhood!
- Solarize Seattle: Magnolia Workshop, 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center,
Maple Leaf also has the added bonus of having an employee of Northwest SEED in the neighborhood: Jessica Raker, whose solarized home at 10530 11th Ave. N.E. (pictured at top of post) will be a part of the Oct. 1 Tour of Solar Homes. Although she may be working elsewhere that day, she says somebody will be there to talk about their solar panels and answer any questions during the tour.
The Raker home’s 14 solar panels, which can produce up to 3.4 kilowatts, were installed in August and as of last week had produced 468 kilowatt-hours; in a good year she expects the system to produce up to 3,000 kilowatt-hours.
And although it can take about 15 years for the average solarized home in Seattle to start earning more than was spent installing the system, Raker says current incentives make it even more worth your money, which is why her organization is rallying the troops. Already, the group has helped about 30 residents in Queen Anne add solar systems, and residents in Magnolia now are registering for their own program.
- In addition to not paying for the electricity that the solar panels produce, the state also pays you 15 cents for each of those kilowatt-hours — an amount that rises to 54 cents for people who purchase solar panels made in-state.
- The state doesn’t charge sales tax on solar panels.
- The federal government offers a 30-percent federal tax credit for the purchase and installation of solar panels.
Raker adds that residents who register for the Solarize Seattle program are under no obligation to purchase anything, it’s simply a way to get you in their database so they can send you information about upcoming meetings and help you make an appointment to meet with the contractor. Through the program, the contractor will give you a free assessment, and any decisions you make from there out are just between you and the contractor.
“We’re technical assistance,” Raker explained. “We’re really there to help the community get up to speed.”