Community Solar is a collective or sharing model for going solar. In Community Solar, a group of participants put up the money to build a larger solar array and then share the benefits among themselves as well as with the place where the solar is sited.
In Washington State, Community Solar makes solar accessible to are people who don’t own their own home, don’t have a sunny location, cannot afford the upfront cost of solar or simply want solar at a lower entry price.
RCW 82.16.170 defines Community Solar program types and outlines the responsibilities of the Community Solar Project Administrator. Under Washington’s solar incentive program enacted in July 2017, a Community Solar program participants may receive incentive payments via an Administrator under a program governed by RCW 82.16.165.
- Program must be pre-certified by WSU extension energy program.
- Maximum payment per participant is $5000 year.
- Program parameters are described in the chart below and in RCW 82.16.165.
- System size must be under 1000 KW.
- Project must have at least 10 participants or one participant for every 10 KW of capacity, whichever is greater.
- A Community Solar Project may be organized by a Washington electric utility or by a private entity.
|Fiscal Year Ends||Base Rate: Residential or Community Solar (per KWH)||Base Rate: Commercial or Shared Commercial Solar (per KWH)||Bonus for Modules (solar panels) Made in WA|
The Washington Utility and Transportation Commission has a page devoted to Community Solar. Click for details.
In early 2019, Spark Northwest released a report entitled Community Solar in Washington State History and Path Forward that explains and analyzes past Community Solar state policies, including a focus on inequity, and makes suggestions for the future policies. The report describes models that have worked well in other states.
Examples of past Community Solar Projects under the legacy incentive program.
All of these projects are now complete.
In 2018, Benton Rural Electric Association will build a 30.12 KW Community Solar array if enrollment in this shared solar project reaches 100% by Oct 5, 2018. It is only open to Benton REA co-op members.
|Clark PUD customers had the option to purchase one unit at a price of $100. All projects offered sold out in less than one month. Click for more info.|
Spokane-based utility Avista, serving Washington, Idaho and Oregon customers, has a community solar array, with 650+ Washington electric customers as subscribers. Located in Spokane Valley the array has 54 Solectria Inverters and 1,512, 280-watt polycrystalline silica photovoltaic solar panels from Itek Energy.
|The Anacortes Public Library community solar system was funded by Skagit Community Solar Projects using an LLC model under the legacy incentive program.|
Wood Stone Community Solar Project, Bellingham, WA
This manufacturing company of stone hearth and specialty commercial cooking equipment now has solar on its manufacturing facility roof thanks to the vision and commitment of its employees.
|Seattle City Light has teamed up with affordable housing provider Capitol Hill Housing (CHH), for its fourth Community Solar project. Capitol Hill Housing helps people of limited means to have a home by providing secure, affordable apartments to more than 1,700 of our neighbors across the city.|
Another model for taking collective action is called Solarize (a program of Spark Northwest). In this model, a group of home-owners each buy their own solar systems but they come together to go solar as a neighborhood and get a group-buy discount. Together they select one installer and set the time schedule. Learn about the current Solarize Campaigns.