Submitted by Sustainable Connections
Sustainable Connections, along with local business partners Ecotech Solar, Western Solar, and Itek Energy has completed the community solar purchasing program, Solarize Whatcom, with fantastic success.
Solarize Whatcom helped residents and business owners easily navigate solar installation by providing free workshops and site assessments, brokering low-interest rates, and assisting with every step of the contract and installation process. In the end, 47 contracts were completed, over $1,200,000 was invested in solar, and a total of 311.15 kW will be saved every year! Bellingham’s solarize project has been one of the most successful in the State, despite being launched and run during an incredibly uncertain time for solar – when many had questions and concerns related to changing state incentives. This campaign has contributed to Whatcom County being a leader in most solar per capita in the state. Additionally, the Governor recently proclaimed Bellingham the top solar community in Washington.
“We’ve been wanting to install a solar array on our home for a while; this streamlined program made it feasible and straightforward” said Solarize participant Kate Rinder, “now our home has a high quality, locally manufactured source of renewable energy, our investment is helping the Food Bank, we’re reducing our carbon footprint, and thanks to Washington’s strong incentive program, we’re making the ‘sunny money,’ which made this financially possible.”
On top of homeowner energy and utility savings, there have been large boons for the community. Thanks to Solarize program partners, for every solar installation contract that was signed, a panel and installation was donated to the Bellingham Food Bank, resulting in a 47-panel array that will be installed later this spring. Early estimates predict an annual savings of $300, plus additional cash acquired via production incentives from the State. This means more resources to help end hunger in Whatcom County, as every $10 saved by the Food Bank provides another 100 lbs. of food to individuals.
Solarize Whatcom reflects the unique and special community Bellingham has. Businesses that would usually be considered competitors came together to create and direct this program, local financial institutions made it easy to invest, residents and commercial property owners participated and committed, and non-profits that serve the community were supported. It also helps Bellingham advance in the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a competition to win $5 million for the City and help all residents save energy.
There will be a celebration at the Bellingham Food Bank, with details to come. To learn more about the Bellingham Energy Prize visit Bellinghamenergyprize.org. Solarize Whatcom was part of an incredibly successful Statewide campaign called Solarize Northwest.