by Ben Adlin
For hours before and after classes, a group of high school students in Tukwila can be found hunched over laptops and soldering stations, welding and angle grinding, and occasionally driving circles in the parking lot. Their goal: to design and build a solar-powered car capable of defending the group’s back-to-back championship titles this summer at the National Solar Car Challenge in Texas.
Continue reading South Seattle Students Eye Third Consecutive National Solar Car Championship
by Beth Doglio and Ben Silesky
Washington’s solar industry is booming. The end of 2021 saw a record number of residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar projects installed, in part due to the solar investment programs designed by the state of Washington in 2005 and again in 2017. Homeowners and building owners who install solar see their electricity costs plummet and enjoy the clean energy the sun provides to keep their homes and workspaces warm and comfy while simultaneously reducing their reliance on the fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. Unfortunately, solar still remains out of reach for millions of Washingtonians due to upfront costs, unsuitable roofs, and tree cover. Furthermore, about half the people in the state rent their homes.
Continue reading OPINION: State Considers Clean Energy Equity Program
by Ben Adlin
In an effort to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing rules that would sharply limit the use of natural gas in new multifamily homes and commercial developments as well as encourage wider adoption of solar power.
“These updates will save money, they’ll create jobs, and they’ll have an impact on climate change,” Constantine said at a media event Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Yesler Terrace Park.
Constantine declined to provide a timeline for the proposal other than to call it “wildly urgent.” The changes would need approval from the King County Council to take effect.
Continue reading King County Proposal Would Ban Natural Gas in New Multifamily and Commercial Buildings
by Ben Adlin
Dozens of solar panels will eventually cover the roof of Highline High School’s new building in Burien under a student-led plan to build the largest solar-power system ever at a South King County public school.
Installation of the project would occur next year if the project meets its January 2022 fundraising deadline. Once complete, the 100-kilowatt solar array would not only produce clean electricity but also provide experiential, STEM-based learning opportunities for students, who could monitor the system’s flow of energy in real time.
In addition to seeking public grants and funds from private foundations, the students are also gathering individual donations through the Highline Schools Foundation. A related GoFundMe campaign launched earlier this year described the project as “living proof that solar energy is attainable in any neighborhood, even those with modest per capita incomes. And YOU will help us get there!”
The idea began with a question last summer from then-Highline senior Nha Khuc, who was in the midst of an environmental internship through King County. What would it take, Khuc asked one of the professionals she met in the program, to put solar panels on Highline’s new roof?
Continue reading South End Students Lead Push to Install Solar Panels at Highline High School
by Sally James
When two men met long ago as part of a city committee, they didn’t know that years later it would lead to a solar installation.
Dennis Comer, who lives near Genesee Park, works as the director of the nonprofit Central Area Collaborative. His days are spent trying to promote investments and development that will benefit the Central District and preserve its cultural legacy.
Edwin Wanji is the owner of Sphere Solar Energy, a five-year-old company that installs solar panels on roofs in Washington as well as around the world. Wanji is an immigrant from Kenya who came to the United States with two $20 bills in his pocket as a college student almost 15 years ago.
Continue reading Edwin Wanji Brings Solar Energy to South Seattle — and Rural Kenya