The Thurgood Marshall Community Solar Project
Community Solar is a model of solar energy development where a group of people own and benefit from a single solar array.
It’s a way to address barriers to solar access for:
- Renters & non-homeowners
- Those that cannot afford the cost of a residential solar installation
- Homes that are unsuitable for a solar installation.
Washington residents have the opportunity to purchase solar units, subscriptions to a portion of the project’s energy generation. Your upfront contribution is used by Olympia Community Solar to fund the solar installation. As the project generates energy we’ll send you an annual payment for your portion.
Each unit is expected to return about $480 over the 16 year payback time.
Anybody has the opportunity to donate solar units to a participating non-profit. Your donation is tax-deductible and the non-profit you choose will receive an annual payment for the donated portion of the project.
Nonprofit Partners: Thurston County Food Bank, Salmon Defense, Capitol Land Trust, Garden Raised Bounty (GRUB), Dispute Resolution Center, Thurston Climate Action Team, and Olympia Community Solar.
Thurgood Marshall Middle School opened its doors in the Fall of 1994. The Middle School serves about 415 students any given year. The school reports that 40% of their students use the Free and Reduced Meal Program and 16% receive special education.
A solar project team formed in early 2022 to begin the project’s development. After gathering information about Thurgood Marshall Middle School’s roof condition and energy consumption, the project team issued a request for solar proposals to commercial solar installers. We received proposals from three reputable firms and selected Puget Sound Solar for their quality equipment, cost proposition, and substantial experience.
Community members can support the project by purchasing or donating solar units, subscriptions to the project’s energy production.
The school will pay for the solar energy at a price lower than the utility’s retail rate, saving thousands of dollars each year. Our team collects the energy revenue and distributes it to participants each year. Once the participant’s capital contribution is recovered (with interest but not profit), their participation ends and the system will be donated to the school district.
The Southwest facing school roof has excellent solar exposure, and faces the school’s playfields and bus parking areas. Students will be able to see the solar installation as they arrive at school each day, during their recess, and at the end of the day when they board their bus.
Our team is working with faculty to leverage the array as a teaching tool for students. How much energy do solar panels generate on a sunny day vs a cloudy one? What is the impact on emissions?
Research conducted by Blue Shield of California1 found that the vast majority of young adults ages 14-24 say environmental concerns take a toll on their physical and mental health. Three in four youth reported that they have experienced at least one mental health-related issue as a result of consuming climate-related news, including feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents agreed that leaders are not doing enough to combat climate change.
Our team argues that students of the Olympia School District in general, and students of Thurgood Marshall in particular experience similar impacts from climate related concerns. Installing solar on the school roof will provide students with a clear example of local climate action, and show that the District is taking their health and futures seriously.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
What's a Solar Unit?
A Solar Unit represents a portion of a community solar project’s capacity. Thurgood Marshall project Solar Units represents 245 Watts of generating capacity, or one half a solar panel.
Each Solar Unit will generate about $27 dollars of electricity the first year, and an average of $33 dollars per year over the subscription term. Participants will receive an annual payment until their contribution is returned with interest before the project is donated to the Olympia School District.
This project will include Silfab 490 Watt solar panels. The panels are highly regarded in the solar industry for their impressive warranties and efficiency. The commercial module stands at over two meters tall and includes solar optimizers.
The 100 kW SolarEdge inverter includes an 20 year extended warranty. This inverter will covert the panel’s Direct Current (DC) solar energy into Alternating Current (AC) energy that the school can utilize.
Public Production Monitoring
SolarEdge monitoring will provide out team and the public with real-time production numbers, alerts if issues occur, and some really cool looking graphs.
We use the monitoring system to create monthly energy bills for Thurgood Marshall. After paying for expenses, energy revenue is dispersed to project participants.
We’re taking advantage of Net Metering, the cornerstone policy of the solar industry.
If our solar panels ever produce more electricity than the school consumes, it will flow into the grid and the electric utility provides the school with credits. Later, when we need more utility power the credits reduce the school’s electric bill.
Most residential and small commercial solar projects use net metering. Learn more by visiting our Legislation page.
ABOUT THE INSTALLER
Puget Sound Solar LLC (PSS) was founded by Jeremy Smithson and Pamela Burton with a vision of a green, sustainable future for the residents of Puget Sound. PSS is a Washington General Electrical Contractor (License # PUGETSS920RH) and General Construction Contractor (License # PUGETSS932MU). PSS installed Seattle’s first residential grid-tied solar electric system in 2001 and we’ve been installing Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging stations since 2006.
Over the years, we’ve installed over 21,000 kilowatts of solar energy projects, including about 35% of all photovoltaic systems in the Seattle City Light service area, and 10% of all such systems statewide. We’ve installed over 1500 electric vehicle charging stations. Between 2009 and 2013 we performed 600 complete home energy audits and over 200 home energy retrofits, giving us a deep understanding of the interconnection between renewable energy and energy efficiency.
PSS designs, installs, and services all types of grid-connected solar electric systems. We have licensed electricians on staff and do 100% of our installation work in house. We are located at the geographical center of Seattle at 805 Rainier Avenue South, 98144.