Community Challenge Highlights
Solar Power Isn’t Just for the Sunbelt States
Solar Power Video
What is Next for Community Challenges?
Green Power Rewards Re-Energized
Green Power Program Numbers
Community Challenge Highlights
Mercer Island more than met their Gets Green goal – in fact they nearly doubled it. Congratulations Mercer Island!
Mercer Island became the third EPA Green Power Community in Washington State – joining Lacey and Bellingham in the designation.
Mayor Bruce Bassett accepts the $30,000 check from PSE’s Jason Van Nort.
Community schools and associations were awarded $2,360 in bonuses for use on green programs for their participation in the challenge.
Solar Power Isn’t Just for Sunbelt States
Despite its meteorological shortcomings, the Pacific Northwest is becoming a bright spot for solar.
Admittedly it can be challenging to build a solar industry in the gray zone we call home: our area is cloudy 226 days a year and ranks near the bottom of U.S. cities for clear days, according to the Western Regional Climate Center. And electricity from conventional sources is relatively inexpensive here, which means that it can be a tough sell to get homeowners and businesses to invest in green energy systems like solar power.
Still, Washington has doubled the amount of solar power generated each year since 2006. The growth has been fueled by a combination of federal and state incentives for installing solar equipment and falling prices for solar panels, which have dropped in cost by 80 percent over the past five years.
The upfront cost of a solar installation can be considerable but it can make economic sense for many reasons:
Washington has some of the most attractive solar incentives in the world. Residents and businesses can get up to $5,000 per year for the solar energy they generate. The biggest state incentives go to buyers of solar modules made in Washington.
Washington also waives sales taxes for equipment used to produce solar power, and for the cost of installing that equipment.
Plus, buyers can claim a federal tax credit of 30% of the upfront cost of a solar system.
In addition to receiving state incentives, solar owners can save on power bills. With PSE’s Net Metering
, customers who generate their own solar power are connected to the utility’s distribution grid; they produce solar energy for their home or business when the sun shines and use electricity from the grid when they need it. When systems produce more energy than is immediately consumed, PSE credits the account at retail prices for the power added to the grid.
It increases property values. A study
by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems sell for a $17,000 premium over homes without solar systems.
Solar can help energize our local economy too, since the solar industry is creating jobs six times faster than the overall job market. Washington’s incentives are aimed at supporting a homegrown solar industry, and they have. In the past four years two manufacturers have begun producing solar modules in Washington, and the job market is growing for solar installers.
PSE and its Green Power program have been working for more than a decade to increase the visibility and viability of solar power in the Northwest.
Green Power has funded the installation of solar modules in schools, community centers and other public facilities across the state.
Residential customers have won home solar installations through Green Power’s Solar Sweepstakes.
This year Green Power will focus on increasing its support of solar through its energy portfolio and community programs.
To help demonstrate that solar power can work in the Northwest, PSE built the region's largest solar array in 2007 at its Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Kittitas County. It features 2,723 photovoltaic solar panels and includes the first made-in-Washington panels, which can produce power even under cloudy skies.
Today, PSE supports over 1500 Net Metered customers, and although adding solar may not be an option for everyone, PSE’s Green Power Program provides a way to support a growing solar industry.
Want to support solar in our region?
Sign up for the Green Power program.
Learn about PSE’s Net Metering program.
Hear from one of our Pacific Northwest experts about how solar does work in our region, even West of the Cascades.
2012 marked the ten year anniversary of the Green Power Program. Over our ten, now eleven, years we have been continuously among the top programs in the United States – and we could not do it without program participants, like you. Thank you! Looking ahead to 2013 the number 10 continues to mean something special for our program: this year we plan to increase the percentage of solar power in our portfolio with the goal of 10 percent by 2014. That means, in 2014, when you look at our portfolio pie chart the solar wedge will be bigger – ten times bigger!
How will we do this? Over the next year, please watch our website and Facebook page for updates as we start connecting with more solar.
What Is Next for Community Challenges
2012 Each year, the Green Power Program challenges communities to increase their adoption of renewable energy. As a reward for meeting their community goal, over the past five years we have granted over $150,000 to build solar demonstration projects in Bellingham, Olympia, Lacey, Whidbey Island, Vashon, and most recently Mercer Island. Demonstration projects such as these increase awareness of renewable energy options, contribute to the host site’s power needs, and become destinations for local schools where students can learn more about the future of energy.
This year we are taking on our biggest community challenge effort to date: five communities! Each community will have its own participation goal and chance to earn a $20,000 grant for a solar demonstration project in their town. Then they will compete among the five to earn a stretch award of an additional $20,000! We are excited to have the opportunity to bring solar to so many communities this year! Want to know which five cities are participating? Follow this story on Facebook – we will announce in the next few weeks.
Green Power Rewards Re-Energized
With PSE Green Power Rewards are now available via a mobile application for Apple and Android devices. We hope that this will make using your coupons, and supporting green powered businesses, easier and more convenient.
One code is available per household and a new code will be distributed early each year through participant’s personalized Annual Report. New participants will receive their code in their Welcome Packet, shortly after they enroll. Do not miss out: download the app today! Find out more here.
Green Power by the Numbers (as of December 2012)
Green Power Participation
||1. Olympia – 4329
||4. Kirkland – 1609|
||2. Bellingham – 4186
||5. Redmond – 1314|
|3. Bellevue – 2208
Total kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power purchased January to December 2012:
365,795,536 – up 7 percent from the same period in 2012
Expense breakdown for 2012*
*All revenue goes back into PSE’s Green Power Program, as required by law. .
PSE’s Green Power Program is Green-e Energy Certified
Green-e Energy certifies that PSE's Green Power Program meets the minimum environmental and consumer protection standards established by the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions. For more information on Green-e Energy certification requirements, call 1-888-63-GREEN or log on to green-e.org.