Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced Miller Community Center will soon host a $3.3 million solar microgrid that will lower its operating costs, store clean, carbon-free electricity, and continue to operate throughout power outages. The microgrid is expected to reduce the amount of electricity Seattle Parks and Recreation buys from Seattle City Light, while saving about $4,000 annually, and about $70,000 over the 14-year life of the project.
Seattle City Light and Seattle Parks and Recreation selected Miller Community Center to host the $3.3 million demonstration project, after a careful assessment of sites. The project is funded through City Light investing $1.8 million and a $1.5 million state Clean Energy Fund matching grant from the Washington Department of Commerce.
“Seattle is a leader in climate change, and with this project, we are adding sustainable, emission-free energy to the community,” said Mayor Durkan. “Protecting our environment and lowering operating costs of our facilities makes good economic sense and is an important step as we move towards becoming a green economy.”
“Microgrids are innovative approaches that enhance the use of renewable energy and improve our community’s resiliency during emergency events,” City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs said. “In an emergency that causes power outages, the microgrid will continue to power the community center so kids, seniors, and other neighbors will be able to stay warm, charge their phones, do homework and most of all stay safe until we get the lights back on at their homes.”
“Gov. Inslee’s vision for the Clean Energy Fund is for Washington state to be a leader in the global transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Michael Furze, assistant director for the energy division at Commerce. “The Miller Community Center project is another example of how investments in clean energy technology are strengthening communities all over the state, in this instance, by making our electric grid more resilient, while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.”
The microgrid works by capturing energy via photovoltaic solar panels and then storing the energy in a large commercial battery on site. Throughout the project, City Light will study and test features of the microgrid to increase opportunities for improving its effectiveness and finding new applications of the technology.
“This solar microgrid project supports Seattle Parks and Recreation’s goal of leading on environmental issues. The microgrid allows us to lower our carbon emissions while supporting the development of green, high-tech infrastructure in diverse communities, all while allowing the department to save thousands of dollars annually on energy bills,” said Christopher Williams, interim superintendent for Parks and Recreation.
City Light and Parks and Recreation selected the Miller Community Center location after a careful assessment of potential sites, which considered safety and community benefit, feasibility, schedule, and budget considerations, as well as the potential to maximize solar production and offset carbon dioxide emissions.
City Light will solicit requests for proposals for an engineering, procurement and construction contract to move forward with the installation. Construction is expected to start early next year.