Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Two ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home or business: Solarize Seattle and Community Power Works

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Here are two great program available to homes and business in Seattle that want to reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings. We all need to step up to fight the climate change we are already witnessing. The City is preparing it’s Climate Action Plan that we hope to adopt by Earth Day, 2013, and that will lay out the map for how we will get to a carbon neutral city by 2050. In fact, tonight we will be hosting a forum at Yesler Community Center from 6-8pm on how to make our energy use visible, a key strategy for improving conservation. The City cannot achieve carbon neutrality on its own; we need your efforts, too, and these programs can help.

City Council recently received an update on the progress of Community Power Works, an innovative pilot program testing “new models for [building] energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, and institutional sectors.”  The timing of the update is great because we are also currently creating our Climate Action Plan, which has a key focus on reducing the carbon footprint of our building stock in Seattle. Currently, our buildings produce about 21% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions, with 9% coming from residential buildings and 12% from commercial and institutional. Community Power Works is a program to incentivize investments in retrofits and new technologies to improve energy efficiency.

The program was initially funded through federal stimulus grants that are scheduled to evaporate in 6 months. So don’t delay, get your home or business energy audit and take advantage of this great program.

Here are some of the highlights from the program’s success so far.

  • With 70% of DOE grant funding expended, Community Power Works is well on its way to meeting or exceeding its goals across sectors.
  • About 1,900 residential units participating in the program can expect to see an average energy savings of 30%.
  • Across all sectors (residential, commercial, institutional), CPW will save enough energy to power 1,240 homes or 12,700 cars.
  • Customer satisfaction is high. 96% of Community Power Works for Home participants would recommend the program to friends.

Community Power Works serves any homes, business or institutions within the City of Seattle. If you live in Northwest Seattle and are interested in adding solar panels to your home or business, I highly recommend checking out Solarize Seattle.

Solarize Seattle is an innovative public-private partnership led by the non-profit, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED) and Seattle City Light. The program helps potential solar customers by providing access to a group-buy program that provides a streamlined process for residents and small businesses to purchase solar systems for a discounted price. Participants in the program also learn how solar works in Seattle, how it is installed, what tax and production incentives are available to bring the price down, and how low-interest financing can spread out the cost.

Nearly 300 Northwest Seattle residents have already indicated early interest in Solarize Seattle: Northwest. The limited-time campaign intends to install over 200 kilowatts of solar energy in Northeast Seattle by summer of 2013. Northwest SEED’s first three Solarize campaigns in 2011 and 2012 resulted in a 50 percent increase in Seattle’s solar installation rate and injected more than $2.5 million into the local solar economy.

In addition to signing up for these programs, go check out their Facebook (Solarize Seattle and Community Power Works) pages to like and share and help promote the good work they are doing. 


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Comment from Katia Blackburn
Time January 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Hello Councilmember O’Brien:
Good to meet you last night! You did a great job facilitating the Seattle Climate Action Plan discussion.
A note re: Community Power Works: I had my Crown Hill home energy audited about 15 months ago. When I called Community Power Works to explore financing for an energy retrofit, I was told that owners of single family homes, even if they might qualify from an income standpoint, are not eligible for CPW loans and incentives unless they live in the house that they want to retrofit.
I have temporarily rented my home out while in graduate school. Given the discussion last night re: barriers to energy retrofits faced by property owners, I am perplexed by this rule. Tenants (and, in my case, me when I move back in) would benefit from a warmer/cooler home and lower utility bills, contractors would benefit from the work, the City would benefit by moving more quickly to reach Climate Action Plan greenhouse gas reduction goals, and owners would benefit from the increased value of the house at point of sale.
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter!
Katia Blackburn

Comment from Mike O’Brien
Time January 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm


Thank you for your message, for participating in Tuesday’s community forum on Seattle’s Climate Action Plan, and for taking the proactive step of making your property more energy efficient!

I had Rashad on my staff look into your concerns. He found that 15 months ago, in the early stages of the Community Power Works (CPW), the number of banking partners and loan offerings through the program were more limited than they are today. At that time, the loan product offered by CPW was set up so that loan repayment amounts were added to, and paid back through, the homeowner’s electric bill through City Light. This “on-bill repayment” method is actually a very good way to finance home energy efficiency improvements, particularly because the amount of money you save on your electric bill from the energy improvements help cover the cost of the loan. But, on-bill repayment only works if the person who borrows the money is also the same person that pays the utility bill. It’s not so good for tenant/landlord scenarios.

However, CPW now has another loan product (through an additional lender that has partnered with the program) that allows you to do the energy efficiency improvements on the home without the loan being tied to your tenant’s utility bill. Please do contact Community Power Works today ( They will access your previous information and help you move forward.

Thanks again,

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