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King County, WA Resident Group Teams Up With Local Government for Community Solar Project

Aug. 16, 2012

King County’s first Community Solar project set to shine on Vashon Island

A group of Vashon Island solar-energy supporters would be able to install a community solar-power project on land leased at low cost from King County, and receive financial incentives from Washington state, under legislation proposed today by King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“Creative partnerships like this will jump-start local investment in solar energy, and help us reach our ambitious, but achievable, goal of meeting half of the energy needs of County government from renewable sources,” said Executive Constantine. “We can save the public money by using clean, renewable energy that we can generate through partnerships like this.”

The Executive sent legislation to the King County Council that would make Backbone Community Solar the first participant in the County’s Community Solar Program. Under the partnership, the group would be able to lease property at the County’s Vashon Recycling and Transfer Station and install a solar array – a group of solar panels that capture sunlight and transform it into electricity. King County would use the electricity generated on-site to power County facilities, leading to a cleaner regional energy portfolio and saving the public money.

“This is another example of Vashon Islanders stepping up and working collectively to achieve excellent results,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who represents Vashon and Maury islands. “As governments continue to find efficiencies and cost reductions, partnerships such as this are vital.”

“Community-sponsored solar panels at King County’s Vashon transfer station will be a great demonstration of the benefits of clean solar energy,” said King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, who sponsored the motion calling for creation of King County’s Community Solar Program. “Fostering partnerships between King County and its residents taps into solar energy’s great but currently underutilized potential as a renewable resource in King County.”

“Backbone Community Solar is proud to partner in King County’s process to find a win-win path for collaborating with local community solar projects,” said Bill Moyer, with Backbone Community Solar. “The Vashon Community Solar project is an ambitious effort to model distributed renewable energy production. We are grateful to King County for working with us to craft a collaborative model that is replicable and delivers opportunity for as many County residents as possible to take part.”

The County’s Community Solar Program offers prospective partners the opportunity to lease the use of County sites at low cost, install solar projects, and receive financial incentives from a Washington state solar energy program. Washington state has established production incentives for individuals, businesses, and local governments that generate electricity from solar power. The state’s utilities pay the incentives to power producers and earn a tax credit equal to the cost of those payments.

King County put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) in April to invite community partners to invest in construction of solar panels at King County “solar hot spots” for production of electricity to help power County facilities and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The list of potential sites ranges from closed landfills, court buildings, wastewater treatment plants, and park-and-ride lots.

“It’s been a terrific experience working with the team at the County,” said Carol Eggen, Backbone Community Solar project organizer. “They brought great expertise, enthusiasm and a can-do attitude to the project.”
The Community Solar Program builds on the 2010 King County Energy Plan, which provides the County’s roadmap to achieve energy efficiency and sets the ambitious but achievable goal of using or producing renewable energy to meet half of the county’s energy needs.

To receive the RFP document for the Community Solar Program, please contact Roy Dodman in the County’s Procurement and Contract Services Section at 206-263-9293, or

Read the Request for Proposals for the King County Community Solar Program at:
(enter the Procurement site as a “guest”)

Learn more about the Executive’s 2010 King County Energy Plan at:

Source: King County 

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