Olympia Community Solar launches fourth annual Solarize campaign

Mason Rolph

Olympia Community Solar launches fourth annual Solarize campaign

Clean energy program ends July 4, offers services to Thurston, Mason, Lewis counties

In its continued efforts to make clean energy more accessible, Olympia Community Solar has launched the fourth annual Solarize campaign, which is available through July 4.

The program will support Thurston, Mason and Lewis county residents by offering a free solar assessment to give participants an estimate on how much the project will cost and how much money they’ll save over time on electricity, as well as providing a vetted company to install the panels, if purchased.

Mason Rolph, president of Olympia Community Solar, said the average price per watt of electricity is $2.65 if customers install their solar panels through the Solarize program. He sees tremendous economic benefits for customers making the switch to clean energy, including “economic independence” from utility bills. 

“Solar projects have warrantied equipment for 25 years, and over that course of time, on average, a project will return back to a customer about two to three times the amount it cost to install,” Rolph said. “Historically, clean energy has been projected as something that’s expensive. One of the goals with the campaign is once people get their free site assessment of their home and see their quote, usually it’s a very obvious choice to install solar. Not only does it pay for itself, it saves the customer a lot of money long term.”

Olympia Community Solar’s previous Solarize campaigns proceeded with over 250 solar installations throughout the Puget Sound. The organization negotiated special pricing with South Sound Solar, Sunpath Electric and Blossom Star. Solarize ensures the process of going solar is simple, secure and accessible by purchasing solar equipment with the organization’s partnered installers.

Ben Silesky, Solarize’s program director, said the program is essentially a way of motivating a large group of people to all convert to using solar to power their houses at the same time.

“Typically, putting residential solar on your house is a very individual endeavor. Solar is a new industry and a lot of people are interested in it, but they don’t know which installers to trust. They often don’t know the proper tax incentives, or what a good solar quote is,” Silesky said.

“What the Solarized program does is it offers a layer of affordability, security and education to that whole process — making it a lot easier for people to feel comfortable with deciding to go solar with their house.” 

Silesky said the program is approaching homeowners and small businesses in several different counties, as well as with community groups in Walla Walla, the City of Kenmore and Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties. In 2024, Solarize has a goal of obtaining contracts with 50 people per region to put panels on their roofs. 

“We see solar as a wide tapestry of things to motivate people to decarbonize their houses and save money,” Silesky said. “We see both the economical benefits and environmental benefits, the environmental benefits being you’re generating clean energy. By introducing clean, renewable, fuller energy onto the grid, we’re contributing to fully moving ourselves off of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. The economic benefit is that once that system is paid back, after a few number of years, you’re just generating savings at that point. You can offset 100% of your home energy use with solar.”

Silesky described Solarize as a “big education campaign.” He said the organization is non-profit, and the goal is to educate the greater public on how solar energy works. Through its community partnerships, Solarize and Olympia Community Solar offer additional services such  as discounted home energy audits through partnerships with Community Energy Challenge. The organizations also partnered with the City of Olympia to do a residential heat-pump campaign.

All solar panels used during the Solarize project are constructed in Moses Lake, Washington, Silesky said. 

People interested in participating in the fourth annual Solarize program can sign up for a free solar site assessment at olysol.org/solarize. An installer will assess a home or business to provide an eventual solar proposal at the campaign’s group rate. 

For more information, email info@olysol.org, or call 360-481-4020.

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