Community Solar FAQs
Currently all City Light community solar projects are sold out
Community solar is a different model for solar energy. Instead of putting solar on your own home (which requires home ownership,
the right sunny location, and a fairly large upfront investment), community solar lets many people come together to build one
larger solar array. At Seattle City Light, we choose locations that are a good fit for solar. The panels are in sunny locations,
visible to the public, and on properties that bring other public benefit to our community. Participants benefit through economies
of scale, better siting, and the opportunity to take part at a much lower entry level.
City Light has a community solar program with four fully subscribed projects at five sites. These include Jefferson Park, the Seattle Aquarium, the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association building, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Capital Hill Eco District. Our latest project on Capitol Hill went online in November of 2014. Project members voluntarily fund each project, and they receive credit through 2020 for the electricity generated by their portion of the project.
Yes. Seattle City Light customers are adding more solar power each year. Despite our cloudy reputation, solar power has solid
potential in this region. In fact, Seattle and the Northwest receive greater solar exposure than Germany, the world leader in
Yes. Whether you are a business, non-profit group, or household (rented or owned); living in a single family home, apartment,
townhome or condo-you qualify to participate!
That's right! One of the many benefits of owning solar with Seattle's community solar program is that anyone with a City Light
electric bill is eligible to purchase "solar units" which equal a portion of a project.
Community solar provides an easy and affordable way to participate in a solar energy project. You'll be part of a pioneering
group moving Seattle toward a cleaner, renewable energy future. You'll also receive an annual credit through 2020 for the amount
of electricity generated by your portion of the project.
Each solar unit costs $150, and customers can buy any amount of units between 1 and 125.
Our first community solar site is at Jefferson Park, located on Beacon Hill. This project is already helping to demonstrate that solar works in Seattle. The second site is on the south roof of the Seattle Aquarium, a highly visible public space on Seattle's waterfront, with optimal solar access. The third community solar project is located at two sites on Phinney Ridge in North Seattle - the Phinney Neighborhood Association and the Woodland Park Zoo. Between the two sites, there is just under 75 kilowatts of solar installed - the maximum size for a community solar project under Washington state law. Our fifth community solar site is located on the roof of an affordable housing apartment building on Capitol Hill.
The first project at Jefferson Park produces approximately 25,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The Seattle Aquarium
project is 44.4 kilowatts and should produce more than 46,000 kwH per year. In its first six months of operation, the
Aquarium project produced 25,670 Kilowatt hours of electricity.We conservatively estimate 1050 kilowatt hours of electricity
are produced for every kilowatt in size of the system. So far the projects have done even better than that. We let you see
how the projects are doing by making live solar production data available online for each one - check to see how
all of the City Light Community Solar projects
Yes. Participants receive annual production incentive credits through 2020 from both Seattle City Light and Washington
State for their portion of the electricity generated.
Current production incentives are as follows:
- Washington State Incentive: City Light follows the state law, WAC 458-20-273 for production incentives. For the 2015-2016 solar year, we estimate that the per kWh rate will be approximately $.70 for community solar.
- Seattle City Light: The credit for the net metering portion of power will be at the small general service retail rate or approximately $.09 per kWh
* For more information on the credits, please see How is the credit to my utility bill determined?
The program ends in June 2020 to coincide with the current sunset date for Washington State Renewable Energy Production Incentives that
represent the largest portion of energy credits. At that time, the community solar arrays will continue to produce energy and ownership
will be transferred to the host site.
Check back here often for more news, or contact an Energy Advisor at (206)684-3800 or
and let them know that you want to be on our community solar email list to get the latest information.
Yes! When you enroll, the charge for your unit(s) will be divided in two equal installments on your next 2 bills. Once the charge
is added to your bill, you will be able to pay by check, by credit card or by electronic funds transfer from your bank account.
Yes. However, signage size, type and location may be affected by the location of the project and the number of participants
(as on-site or other physical signage could be problematic when we have larger numbers of people).
No. Participation in Seattle Community Solar is a purchase of a portion of a solar system that provides annual bill credits
and is not a donation. Seattle City Light is a municipal corporation and does not qualify as a charitable organization.
Yes, if you move within the Seattle City Light service area, transfer the solar benefits to your new account. If you move
out of the Seattle City Light service area, you can designate another Seattle City Light account to receive the benefits.
If you choose a non-profit organization, the value of your donation could be tax-deductible.
No! City Light takes care of everything so that you don't have the hassle of filling out multiple applications. City Light administers the State’s community solar production incentive passing on your incentive as a
credit on your utility bill once a year through 2020.
No. All of the insurance, warranty, management and maintenance for the system is included in the initial price.
As a customer, you will not have to pay any additional out-of-pocket fees.
Your bill will be credited
back at a portion of the entire array's production. For example, each unit in the Seattle Aquarium array represents a 24
watt piece of the entire system.
Units in the Phinney Ridge and Capitol Hill EcoDistrict project have less time to pay participants back, so we increased
the unit size to 28 watts so that customers will still get about the same amount of credit over the life of those projects.
The state's utilities pay production incentives to qualified solar-generating customers (including community solar
participants) within their service territories and earn a tax credit equal to the cost of the payments. The tax credit
that the utility may claim cannot exceed the greater of $100,000 or 0.5% of the utility's taxable power sales. The
incentive amount paid by a utility on behalf of the State may be proportionally reduced if requests for incentive
payments exceed the tax credit cap available to that utility. Seattle City Light expects to reach its tax credit
cap some time in 2016. Without a change in the State law, incentive payments to all solar customers within
City Light territory could be reduced for the duration of the program.
The net metering portion of the community solar payment is tied by ordinance to the Small General Service rate.
As part of City Light's strategic planning efforts, these rates are subject to change.
You can also learn about community solar by talking with a Seattle City Light Energy Advisor.
Email us at: SCLEnergyAdvisor@seattle.gov
Phone: 206-684-3800 (translation services available).
Seattle City Light
Attn: Community Solar Program Manager
PO Box 34023
Seattle, WA 98124-4023