Solar Power on Mercer Island
Solarize Mercer Island - Residential Solar Installation Campaign
UPDATE! The official contracting deadline for the Solarize campaign was Oct 31, 2014 -- new applications are no longer being accepted. We are still working through a backlog of last-minute site visits and proposals. Physical installations will continue well into early 2015.
If you are already in the Solarize database, but never attended a 1-hour workshop presentation, contact the City's Sustainability Manager Ross Freeman or call (206) 275-7662. Options exist to view it as a recorded webinar, or read it as pdf document.
Although Solarize has ended, due to overwhelming interest the City's selected installer is offering a comparable "friends and family" discount until Dec 19, 2014. Interested residents should contact Ross Freeman for more information.
All 5 informational workshop dates for 2014 (Jun, July, Aug, Sept, Oct) have now occurred and no additional workshops are scheduled. See photos from the first workshop on our City Facebook page.
After attending or viewing the presentation, residents were eligible for a free site visit by our installer, to see if solar would work at their location.
The City has signed an agreement in early 2014 with regional non-profit group Northwest SEED to launch a mass solar installation initiative here on Mercer Island. The Solarize Mercer Island campaign intends to bring at least 30 new residential solar arrays online, and will be run jointly by Northwest SEED, the City, committed citizen volunteers, and with support from the Washington Dept of Commerce and Puget Sound Energy (PSE).
This exciting opportunity builds on the success of the 2012 PSE Green Power sign-up campaign, last year's EPA Green Power Community Award, and is a logical next step following the installation of the City's solar array at the Community Center in July 2013.
By gathering dozens of interested homeowners, the campaign can offer 10 to 15 percent off normal pricing due to the cost efficiencies of mass purchasing. The State of Washington's solar incentives mean a typical system can pay for itself in just five years, depending on equipment selected, and should then last another 20-30 years. Typical systems on Mercer Island so far are averaging about 6.5 kilowatts in size. Low-interest solar loans are available from local banks and credit unions.
The first step for homeowners and business-owners interested in installing solar panels on their rooftop will be a public workshop. After attending a 90-minute workshop, attendees are eligible for a free site assessment to determine the feasibility of their desired rooftop location. Islanders who then decide to pursue the opportunity will sign a contract directly with the solar installer pre-selected by a Solarize volunteer committee.
Challenge Grant: ["30 by October 30"]
Our selected solar contractor has generously offered to give back to the community! When we reach the campaign goal of 30 signed contracts, they will donate a 2-panel solar array to Mercer Island (and labor), for installation at a local non-profit venue, to be determined. For every 10 contracts beyond that, we win another solar panel to be added to the array. Tell your neighbors to go solar.
UPDATE: We made our goal: we're now at 40 installations, and still counting last-minute contracts!
For more information about Solarize Mercer Island, email
City Sustainability Manager Ross Freeman or call (206) 275-7662.
Download a Solarize factsheet here.
To learn about Solarize campaigns in general, visit Solarize Washington here.
To learn more about all the financial incentives currently available for solar in WA, click here.
City-Owned Solar Installation
In July 2013, work crews completed and activated the first City-owned solar power project on the Island. Built entirely with grant money from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and citizen donations, the 22-panel installation located at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center will produce approximately 4468 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, using solar panels and electrical inverters made in Washington State.
|Solar panels and supporters|
At a July 23 event, Mayor Bruce Bassett led partners, City staff, and key community stakeholders in a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony and open-house celebration. Mercer Island's success in meeting Puget Sound Energy's Green Power Challenge (to encourage adoption of renewable energy by Washington communities), led to a $30,000 challenge grant for the solar photo-voltaic (PV) project. In 2012, a citizen-based Green Ribbon Commission persuaded an additional 250 homes and businesses on Mercer Island to sign up, increasing enrollment by 55%. Area residents supportive of solar power donated an additional $5,500 towards the project.
How It Works
The installation is connected directly to the Mercer Room in the Community Center, helping power that facility and replacing power that the City would otherwise buy. The array will also generate approximately $2,500 per year in revenue under the Washington State Production Incentive Program. This income will be invested in additional energy-efficiency measures.
Interested community members can check on the power production of the solar array at any time by visiting our E-gauge webpage [if your browser is up to date, it will also load at the bottom of this page]. Peak production usually occurs near noon each day, and will be highest in the summer months, although modern panels do produce energy even during cloudy and rainy weather. A green line depicts power output, while a red line tracks power consumed by the Mercer Room; when the green number is greater than the red number, most of the room is running on solar power, and any excess power is distributed to the rest of the building. The website also details the cost savings over time.
As of July 2013, this City-owned array is the 25th solar project on the Island, and it brings the local production of renewable energy from solar PV to 124 kW installed. You can add your home or business to that list and start earning production income too! Learn more about renewable energy options.
Size: 4400 Watts (4.4kW)
Annual production estimate: 4468 kilowatt-hours
Number of panels: 22 x 200-Watt Silicon Energy modules
Inverter: Silicon Energy 5300
Racking: Schletter Custom Racking System
Installer: Artisan Electric, Inc.
More installation and event photos can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/CityOfMercerIsland
The Bigger Picture
The solar installation is just one component of a much broader City effort to address greenhouse gas impacts of both government operations and local residents. Examples of other programs include: improving vehicle fleet efficiency, implementing energy-saving measures in City buildings, promoting green building standards, supporting the expansion of electric vehicles, and sustainability outreach programs. Collectively, these actions will help steer the City towards meeting a 2007 resolution by the City Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by the year 2050.
--Here is the real-time power production (green line) of the solar installation, and the
real-time power consumption (red line) of the Mercer Room at the Community Center: