A three-story Seattle apartment building may be the first affordable housing complex with a solar farm on its roof, according to news and commentary website Grist.org.
The 35-kilowatt array atop the 30-unit Holiday Apartments building in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is a joint effort of Seattle City Light and community group Capitol Hill Housing. But the photovoltaic panels do not power the building. Instead, any Seattle City Light customer may buy a 28-watt share of the “community solar program” for $150. In return, the buyers get credits on their electric bills based on the profit the program earns by selling the electricity the panels generate back to the electric company.
Since the program began in October, utility customers have bought 85% of the 925 solar units available. However, none of the shares has been purchased by Holiday Apartments tenants, who are mostly low-income.
Community solar projects are growing in popularity in eco-friendly Washington state—even though Seattle and other cities there are not especially sunny. The typical price of a community solar project share, $500 to $1,400, is higher than what Holiday Apartments program charges, at $150 per share, according to Grist.
The utility has said its decision to locate the solar panels in a low-rent neighborhood might spark interest in clean energy among low-income tenants.