Many in Seattle question whether it’s worth investing time and money in solar panels given that Seattle isn’t known for its constant sunny days. Keith Hughes, owner of West Seattle Natural Energy, pointed out that, “Berlin, Germany receives 3.2 peak sun hours per day, and 44 percent of Germany’s energy production comes from solar” where as “Seattle receives 3.8 peak hours of sunlight per day and only 1½ percent of its energy comes from solar power.”
Seattle City Light and Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED) are working together to promote and change the way Seattle uses renewable energy through their Washington initiative. The goal is to change one neighborhood at a time and to have 150 solar systems operating by the summer 2013 . Projects have already been done Queen Anne and Magnolia as well as other Seattle neighborhoods. When a community agrees to go solar Northwest SEED searches for vendors that will give bulk discount for supplies and installation to the homeowners. Each neighborhood is set up on a grid so that the energy that is not used by one homeowner will flow to other neighbors within the grid.
It is estimated that in the past two years Washington has pumped nearly $4 million into the local economy, created 14 new jobs and has generated more than 600 kilowatts of solar electricity to Seattle’s grid. Seattle City Light estimates that only 600 out of its 400,000 customers use solar energy. Benefits of using solar panels are tax credits and rebates as well as lower energy bills. Living in Seattle helps a little too. Seattle’s annual lower temperatures allow the solar panels to work better and the rain washes them off.