Solarize Seattle Takes Neighborhood Approach

Inspired by a neighborhood-based volume-purchasing program begun in Portland a few years ago, a Seattle organization is working to get home solar systems installed in the Emerald City, block by block.

Solarize Seattle, a program of the nonprofit clean-energy group Northwest SEED, launched at the beginning of this year, focused on the Queen Anne neighborhood. One hundred sixty residents registered, 96 homes were evaluated and, ultimately, 30 homes had solar power systems installed, totaling 130 kilowatts (kW). For the last several months the group has been working on its second campaign, in the Magnolia neighborhood, with a goal of installing more than 200 kW of solar energy there by spring 2012.

home solar installation program, Solarize Seattle

image via Solarize Seattle

Solarize Seattle says that by partnering with grassroots sustainability groups and local installers, it can leverage bulk-buying power to help homeowners realize savings of up to 20 percent when solarizing. All participants get a free assessment of the solar possibilities at their home, and, the group says, “the Solarize initiative provides a streamlined process through which neighbors can collectively decide where to start, how to budget, what to buy, and who to hire.”

Magnolia residents interested in participating have a few final chances to learn more about the program – at a workshop this Thursday at the Discovery Park Visitors Center in Seattle from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., or through webinars that will take place on Nov. 2 and 10, running from noon to 1:15 p.m. each day. Details on all three sessions are available on the Solarize Seattle website. In early 2012, Solarize Seattle plans to move on to the city’s Northeast neighborhood.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.