Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative members Carlo Voli (from left), Janice Freeman, Lance Regan, and Chris Herman stand next to a solar panel on display during the eighth annual NW SolarFest, Saturday, July 16, 2011 at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline.
“Being in Edmonds, we realize the effects of climate change and the importance of environmental stewardship. We have a constant reminder when we look out at Puget Sound that we have a direct effect on the natural world,” City Council President Strom Peterson said.
The city recently received an award from the lighting industry in recognition of its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The energy saved from new LED-fitted street lights and traffic signals translates to seven fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Meanwhile, work begins this month to build a community solar energy system on the Frances Anderson Center's roof.
The city also has worked with New Energy Cities, a program launched by Seattle-based Climate Solutions that aims to accelerate the transition to a clean and renewable energy system.
And a recent workshop and study in Edmonds was used to create a plan to further reduce energy consumption.
The goal is to inspire others to follow.
“We are leading the way as a city,” Peterson said.
City leaders hope to encourage homeowners to make their own energy improvements. “There is a literal payout to citizens,” Peterson said.
Sustainable Edmonds, a citizens group, has partnered with Tangerine Power to develop the community solar project.
The first phase, a 4.2 kilowatt system, will be completed by the end of August. A system addition, to be completed in 2012, will boost the total capability to 75 kilowatts in 2012. That is expected to provide up to $72,000 worth of clean energy over the next decade.*
Residents, businesses and other organizations can purchase memberships in the community cooperative at $1,000 a share. There are currently 37 co-op members holding 42 of 750 available shares. Members will get a proportional amount of their investment back over the course of the project -- expected to be about $100 per year.
“This is the perfect project for people who want to invest in solar energy and get the benefits of solar power but don't own their roof, have a mostly shaded roof, or don't have the financial ability,” said Chris Herman of Sustainable Edmonds. “It reaches a bigger segment of society.”
There will be a New Energy Cities presentation at the City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at Council Chambers, 250 Fifth Ave. N.
*Correction, Aug. 10, 2011: This article originally misreported the system's capabilities.