Rodney and Alisa Boleyn bought their south Bellevue home five years ago, partly because the roof was well-suited for solar panels. After years of saving, the city’s Solarize Bellevue program gave the couple the final incentive they needed to make their move.
Solarize Bellevue is a campaign started last year by the city to reduce the cost of fitting residences and businesses with solar arrays. The city was initially aiming for 30 users in 2014, but ended up extending it to 51.
“We decided to buy a house that would work with solar, but then the Solarize Bellevue thing was just a coincidence,” said Rodney Boleyn.
Boleyn works in the same Seattle office building as the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, which assisted the city in implementing its program, and saw a poster for Solarize Bellevue in the hall.
One of the best parts of the program, said Alisa Boleyn, was that Bellevue took care of securing a contractor.
“We had gotten quotes a couple of times,” she said.
A&R Solar was selected by community volunteers as the winning bidder, according to the city, and will donate a free system to a local nonprofit after 25 contracts are signed this year. Last year’s recipient was the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club Teen Center, the contractor selected last year being Northwest Electric and Solar.
The Boleyns said the investment in solar panels — they have 24 at 270 kilowatts — can be expensive, but city, state and federal clean energy incentive programs have reduced what once would have taken them 15 to 20 years to see a return to an easier 5 to 6.
“It’s just an incredible deal,” Rodney said of the state’s incentives, “and it goes on until 2020.”
Washington’s Renewable Energy Sales and Use Tax Exemption can be used when purchasing state manufactured panels and inverters, which meant the Boleyns paid no state sales tax on the equipment or installation.
The Boleyns said the energy they produce is purchased by Puget Sound Energy at a mark up from what it charges per kilowatt hour under the state incentive, adding they estimate they produce about half of the power they use in a year.
“Our bills have gone down a lot,” Rodney said.
Rodney Boleyn said in five months, from November to April, their solar panels generated 1 megawatt hour — enough to power 330 homes during one hour, according to Clean Energy Authority. He credits uncommonly hot and sunny weather that started in May for reaching that figure in just five weeks.
“If you’re producing more than you’re using, it will go back on the grid,” he said.