Solar energy brightens up the Emerald City

The state of solar in Seattle

Seattle is among the greenest cities in the United States and has been at the forefront of clean energy adoption for well over a decade. In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the country to become 100% carbon neutral and currently generates more than 90% of its electricity from renewable energy sources.

The city ranked 26th for total solar capacity and 34th for per capita solar capacity in the Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Shining Cities report in 2020 and tied for second place on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s City Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

How much solar energy does Seattle produce?

Seattle has a total installed solar capacity of 23.73 MW, equating to 31.85 watts per person. With 85% of the city’s rooftops solar viable, it’s estimated Seattle’s small rooftops have the potential to generate an additional 1,080.50 MW of solar power.*

What are the advantages of going solar in Seattle?

The potential cost savings are among the most popular reasons to go solar in Seattle. The average home in the area uses around 7,200 kWh of electricity annually, and the average solar system produces 1,000 kWh per year per kW of installed capacity. According to Seattle City Light, their electricity rate averages about 10 cents per kWh, meaning with an 8kW solar system—likely enough to eliminate your home’s electricity bill—you’d save around $720 a year!

You may be able to further increase your savings via net metering and meter aggregation.* Net metering allows you to transfer any excess electricity your solar system produces back to Seattle City Light for a credit on your bill. Meter aggregation allows you to apply your net metering credit to any balance on the same billing account.

However, there are also environmental benefits to going solar. Climate change has led to rising sea levels, which directly affects coastal properties along Puget Sound. As temperatures soar, there’s also a higher risk of wildfires and additional strain on the power grid.

Solar power is carbon neutral and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our community which may contribute to climate change. As a bonus, with battery storage, a solar system can also offer better energy security, providing a power source if the grid goes down.

How much does solar cost in Seattle?seattle

The cost of a home solar system can vary, even in the same city, due to a range of factors. These include your:

  • Household's energy needs

  • Available unshaded roof space

  • Quality of solar panels

  • Choice in solar system and installer

  • Local permitting fees

To help you understand the price of going solar in your area, we've analyzed SunPower price quotes, as well as quotes gathered by third-party sources for thousands of homeowners across the country.* In Seattle, we found that the average cost of owning a 5 kW solar system ranges from $14,250 to $14,900, or in other words, from $2.85 to $2.98 per watt. And that's before considering the benefits of any available tax credits or incentives.

While the program began waitlisting new applications in June 2019 due to lack of funding, in the future, you may be able to take advantage of the Washington State Renewable Energy System Incentive Program (RESIP). It offers a rebate between $0.02 to $0.12 per kWh generated up to $5,000 annually for residential solar systems. You can claim the rebate for a maximum of 8 years or until you reach 50% of your installation costs, whichever comes first.

This program can be coupled with the 26% federal solar tax credit if you purchase rather than lease your system.*

What’s the best way to go solar in Seattle?

There is no universally right way to go solar. Every home is different, and solar systems vary in quality, appearance, and durability. The best system for your house will depend on your budget, available roof space, and current electricity needs.

You’ll also need to consider whether you want to generate surplus power to store onsite or sell back to Seattle City Light. If you do, you may want to consider installing a larger system. On the other hand, if you’d like to keep upfront costs as low as possible, a smaller system with high-efficiency solar panels may be the way to go.

At SunPower, we make going solar simple. We'll assess your needs and design a custom solar solution that will meet your electricity production goals and budget. Request a free consultation to get started, and we'll follow up with a quick call to schedule a time. You can also call us directly at (800) 786-7693.

Looking for commercial solar in Seattle?

SunPower is the top commercial solar provider in the U.S.* Schedule a commercial solar consultation today.

  • *. Google, Project Sunroof data explorer (November 2018).
  • *. The availability of net metering varies by location and is subject to change. Visit dsireusa.org for detailed solar policy information.
  • *. Local Solar Installers 2020/2021, Solar Reviews 2021, Energy Sage 2021, Wood Mackenzie 2020, National Renewable Energy Laboratory 2020
  • *. Tax credits and incentives are subject to change. Visit dsireusa.org for detailed solar policy information.
  • *. Wood Mackenzie, US PV Leaderboard (March 2021). SunPower ranked #1 in cumulative commercial volume 2017-2020
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