Vashon comes close to meeting Green Power goal

Vashon residents are once again proving their commitment to supporting renewable energy.

After meeting Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power Challenge earlier than expected by adding 110 new enrollments in PSE’s Green Power Program by the end the summer, securing a $10,000 grant for a community solar project, Vashon is close to meeting PSE’s second challenge to gain 90 more enrollments by the end of the year. Meeting the goal would bring the year’s total to 200 new enrollments and ensure even more money for the grant administered by Sustainable Vashon.

Janie Starr, a leader in Sustainable Vashon, said only 37 new enrollments in the Green Power Program are needed by the end of December to secure $5,000 more in grant money.

There are now more than 680 Vashon customers enrolled in the Green Power Program, including 27 commercial accounts. Under the program, residential participants purchase $4 to $10 in renewable energy credits each month to support independent renewable energy projects in the Northwest. Businesses that participate pay larger amounts, based on their energy usage and the amount of their consumption they want covered by the credits.

Starr said that although the challenge has almost been met, Sustainable Vashon is still pushing Islanders to sign up, ensuring the Island gets as much grant money as possible.

“Thirty-seven is so small if you think about it. But people forget; we’re all super busy. … Partly it’s just reminding people now is the time,” she said.

The $15,000 grant, Starr said, will be seed money for a community solar project that the Backbone Campaign’s Community Solar Working Group is currently developing.

Bill Moyer, who heads the Backbone Campaign, said the group is moving forward on plans for a solar array that Islanders could buy into. In return, solar investors would receive federal tax benefits and state incentives.

“Because of the incentives currently in Washington state, participants in a community solar project generate incentive payments for their part, above and beyond the power it creates,” Moyer said.

The group is planning to survey the Island to assess interest in the project. When complete, Moyer said, the array, which will be installed on a public building or public lands, will likely be the largest on Vashon.

The largest solar array currently is a 10-kilowatt system at a home and organic farm on Colvos Passage, said Jason Williams, owner of Artisan Electric and a member of the solar group.

While the size of the array will depend on its location and the number of people willing to buy into it, the array could be no more than 60 to 65 kilowatts in order to qualify for state incentives, he said.

“I think next year will reveal what’s really coming. It’s really exciting,” Williams said.

PSE representatives will be available at the Dec. 11 holiday farmers market to enroll customers in the Green Power Program. Customers can also enroll at or by calling 800-562-1482.

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