In August 2012 the City of Bainbridge Island will shine as the 71.28 kW Community Solar Project on the City Hall roof goes live. The idea of Community Solar was first germinated at City Hall during a community gathering there in 2005. It took several years and the tenacious leadership of Senator Phil Rockefeller in Olympia to turn it from good idea, to Washington State law. Following the unanimous approval from the Bainbridge Island City Council, the City selected Community Energy Solutions (CES) to make the Bainbridge City Hall Community Solar Project a reality.

Community Solar is an emerging field, based on the simple proposition that more people will go solar provided that it is easy, affordable, and free of site barriers. Ron and Ann Morford, one of the Project’s participants said:”We decided to invest in the Bainbridge City Hall Community Solar Project after finding out we could not put solar cells on our home due to excessive shading from tall trees. This project was a great way for us to make an investment in sustainable energy, partner with others from our community, provide much needed savings for our local government, and get a future return on our investment. What a win-win-win-win project! We need to do more of this.”

It is also important to recognize the positive impacts Community Solar brings to the local economy and the greater environment. As another project participant, Kathleen O’Brien, put it:”My husband, John Cunningham, and I invested in the Bainbridge Island City Hall Community Solar Project primarily because it combines an opportunity to support our community using a sustainable technology and an innovative local investment model. We need more and more examples of this kind of leadership and thinking in our region. It’s just plain smart.”

In all, twenty-five Islanders actively participated in the Project. Sunergy Systems was the selected solar contractor for design and installation. They were also the chosen contractor for Go Solar Bainbridge, a recent CES-led community-based campaign that more than doubled the amount of installed solar capacity on the Island.

All two hundred ninety seven panels and thirty inverters are from the Bellingham manufacturer Itek Energy, becoming their largest single project. The Bainbridge City Hall Community Solar Project is truly community-base; created and financed locally while benefiting the local economy and global environment. Not only will the system provide the City of Bainbridge Island with clean energy for many years to come, it will showcase for other communities what can be accomplished in this economy.

Components: 297 Itek Energy IT240 (240W) photovoltaic modules and 30 Exceltech XLGT inverters

This project was featured in Home Power Magazine.