Solar Nerd: Does Solar Power Work In Seattle?

(Sustainable West Seattle is pleased to introduce a new original series: Solar Nerd.  Solar Nerd is Eric Thomas, owner and proprietor of Solar Epiphany, a West Seattle (6016 B California Ave SW) provider of  solar education, installation and advocacy).

Does Solar Power Work In Seattle?   Natürlich!

A headline recently came across my desk that blew my socks off. It read, “Germany Adds Nearly 1% of Electricity Supply with Solar in Eight Months.”   Nearly 1%!

Geez! At that rate, they could theoretically cover 100% of their electricity needs in ~66 years. That’s amazing. Now, me being a solar nerd, I had to look into the specifics of this. In my initial Solar Power Post here on the Sustainable West Seattle site I’m going to share with you my findings.

Now, I already knew that Germany gets about the same or even a little less sun than we do here in Seattle (See image below).

But as I was putting together more background stats for this posting, I was hit with a HUGE realization….(an Epiphany, if you will☺)

Follow my statistical path to enlightenment:

Stat 1-Population: Germany has a massive population of 82 million people. Seattle’s sitting at 602 thousand residents or less than 1% ( .07%) of Germany.

Stat 2-Land Mass: Germany covers 137,847 square miles. Seattle’s 91.5 square miles is hardly comparable at .006% !

Stat 3-Electrical Use/Year: Germany’s electrical usage is 512.9 billion kWh’s per year. Seattle came in at 9.6 billion kWh’s per year which equals approximately ~1.87%…..Wait….WHAT?

In the last eight months, had Germany really added enough solar power to cover half of Seattle’s electrical usage? This is profound and goes directly to the point that solar works here is our lovely climate. Germany’s huge solar deployment can be traced to a great incentive that pays a “tariff” ($$) for all solar electricity that an individual or business produces. If you put up solar panels in Germany, you will be paid for all of the electricity you produce for the next 20 years. A point to be made here is that Washington has a similar incentive in place that also pays you for all of the solar electricity your produce, but also pays more than Germany’s incentive. Although our incentive only pays you for your solar electricity until 2020, using Made in Washington solar components will give you a full payback on your solar investment in 8-9 years*.

So does solar work here in Seattle? The evidence is playing out right now in a climate that nearly matches ours. The incentive’s are similar and, if using Made in WA equipment, are even better here. What’s left to prove?

“If You’ve Realized…Run With It.” – Eric Thomas

*Fine Print: Every installation is unique. To teach our community about solar payback, Solar Epiphany offers free solar education classes to those interested. Please visit to sign up. And as always…our classes are sales-pitch free.

Traffic Safety Meeting @ West Seattle Library

A Traffic Safety Meeting will be at the West Seattle Library meeting room, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm , November 17.

Any resident who is requesting information on traffic calming of non-arterial streets should try to attend. For more information go to

Neighborhood Traffic Operations (NTO), a workgroup within Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is holding neighborhood traffic safety meetings in the community. These meetings are geared toward residents who are interested in working with NTO concerning speeding on their residential street.

The meetings will include a power point presentation, with a brief overview of different traffic calming options, what steps a neighborhood must take to be considered for traffic calming, criteria staff use to prioritize projects, and possible funding sources.

Residents will also become familiar with the proper use of radar speed guns.

If residents want to enroll their street in the traffic calming program, a representative from their street must attend one of these meetings.

For inquiries, contact Jane Rebelowski, Associate Civil Engineering Specialist, Seattle Department of Transportation, Neighborhood Traffic Operations, phone is 206-684-0817, and email is

Central Waterfront Supplemental EIS Hearings Scheduled

The State, County and City want to hear from you.  Attend a public hearing for the environmental analysis of the central waterfront viaduct replacement.

The second Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement has been released. The focus of this document includes analysis of the bored tunnel alternative, which is the preferred replacement for the viaduct’s downtown waterfront section. The document also compares the bored tunnel alternative to a cut-and-cover tunnel alternative and an elevated structure alternative.

FHWA, WSDOT and the City of Seattle are hosting public hearings so you can learn more about this project and comment on its potential effects on transportation, nearby neighborhoods and the environment. Attendees will be able to provide written comments or speak directly with a court reporter.

Join us on the following dates:

  • West Seattle – 6:0 pm to 8:00 pm, Tuesday, Nov.16, Madison Middle School, 3429 45th Ave. SW, Seattle
  • Ballard – 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 17, Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St., Seattle
  • Downtown – 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Thursday, Nov. 18, Plymouth Church, 1217 Sixth Ave., Seattle

If you are unable to attend a hearing but would like to submit a comment on the SDEIS, e-mail or send a letter to:

  • Angela Freudenstein, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, Wells Fargo Building, 999 Third Ave., Suite 2424, Seattle, WA 98104-4019

All SDEIS comments received by Dec. 13, 2010, will receive a response in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, expected to be released in summer 2011.

Take a ride through the proposed bored tunnel – new simulations released

You can now view an updated design concept for the SR 99 bored tunnel in new simulations (YouTube version or Windows Media Player version).

The video takes you on a drive-through simulation of the tunnel, which would begin near the stadiums and exit onto Aurora Avenue N. During the trip, you will also see the ramps at both ends of the tunnel and new street connections over the tunnel’s portals.

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3rd Annual Money-Free Shopping Spree!


Join us for a fun and unique event geared toward the holiday shopping season on ‘Green Saturday’, the day after ‘Black Friday’.  This unique event will be held in an equally unique setting – The Lodge at Camp Long.

The object of “Money Free Shopping Spree” is to promote more meaningful gifting of products made from raw materials or crafting of various sustainable categories. The “Money Free Shopping Spree” is gift trading.

Read more

Alki Bathhouse Fall Puppet Show

Bring your kids to fun and exciting fall puppet shows at the Alki Bathhouse on the beach in West Seattle. The Alki Bathhouse is located at 2701 Alki Ave. SW.

All shows start at 1 p.m.

On Saturday, November 20, Thistle Theater Presents: “Little Red Riding Hood”

For more information please call Alki Community Center 206 -684-7430. Pre-register on line or by calling the community center. The activity fee is $5 (pre-registration), or $8 at the door.


Tenants Union Hosting Movie @ Rainier Valley

The Tenants Union of Washington is holding its first Film Forum on tenant rights and housing justice this November 20th from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm. Our featured film is “Boom: the Sound of Eviction” Come join The Tenants Union in celebration of their work in fighting for the rights of tenants, and enjoy the movie!

“Boom skillfully weaves together footage of protests, first person narratives and lavish dot com parties to tell the story of the steamroller of progress while bringing up difficult issues like displacement, gentrification and the way our economic system works, or doesn’t work.  Now that the boom has gone bust…the documentary is a bleak reminder of not only what did happen, but what can happen. If the Dot Com Days were the party, Boom is the next day.” —

The Tickets can be purchased at the door on a sliding scale: $5 Bust Tickets, or $15 Boom Tickets.  Concessions will also be for sale at Boom or Bust rates, all proceeds go to support the Tenants Union.  The event location is the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S. Alaska St.[mappress mapid=”253″]

Friends of Library Holiday Sale @ Magnuson Park

Don’t miss Friends of The Seattle Public Library‘s one-day holiday sale featuring more than 10,000 items this Saturday, November 20, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Holiday books, CDs, DVDs, gift books, a general selection of fiction and non-fiction books, as well as a large selection of quality children’s books will be for sale – most for $1.

The Friends holiday sale is open to the public. You do not need to be a member to attend.

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Late Notice for Green Job Training Forum Today

A community forum for green job training will be held today, November 12, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm at the YWCA Learning Center – 9720 8th Avenue SW, this is in White Center.

Project Greenlight is recruiting men and women of color and other low-income workers for free job training in:

  • Building Material Reuse and Deconstruction;
  • Sustainable building demolition techniques, including material use and recycling;
  • Green Building – Entry level weatherization installation positions;
  • Green Manufacturing – Training in manufacturing emphasizing green & lean practices;

Is It Right For You?

Come to this community forum to hear more about Project GreenLight and find out if you meet the elegibility requirements. Talk with trainers, employers, case managers and sign-up for upcoming trainings in 2011.

The event is sponsored by

Light refreshments and language interpetation will be available. Call for transportation if you are coming from SE Seattle, call 206-290-5136 or email

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‘Ask the Expert’ Series Returns to Tool Library

Make an appointment or drop by in person at the West Seattle Tool Library on Saturday, November 20th, anytime between 12 noon and 2:00 pm for the continuing series – “Ask an Expert: For the Do-It-Yourselfer.”

Presented at The West Seattle Tool Library courtesy of Mighty House Construction and Urban Land Army.

  • How do I build an eco-friendly kitchen?
  • How do I manage my green house in the winter?
  • How do I even use this stupid tool?

West Seattle businesses and Tool Library staff offer an afternoon of answers to all questions big and small in order to help you along in any of your projects. Everyone’s invited and all questions are welcome. For more complicated questions, feel free to come armed with pictures, drawings, examples, or even the actual project if it’s transportable!

For more information or to make an appointment contact Micah Summers at

The West Seattle Tool Library is located in the Chan Building/Garden Center (North Side of Campus) at South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW. For more information on the Tool Library, contact us at, or visit the Tool Library here on the SWS website.

Seattle Parks Board Meeting November 18

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners will hold its next meeting at 7:00 pm Thursday, November 18, in the Park Board Room at 100 Dexter Ave. N at the corner of Dexter and Denny in Denny Park.

The meeting agenda includes:

  • Guest speaker, City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw – Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the Parks and Seattle Center Committee, will come to the meeting and will address the Board.
  • Seattle Parks Foundation briefing – Thatcher Bailey, the new executive director of the Seattle Parks Foundation, will brief the Board on the recent activities of the Foundation.
  • Maple Leaf Reservoir Park – Parks staff will brief the Board on the status of the Maple Leaf Reservoir Park (working name), a Parks and Green Spaces Levy project.

Briefing papers on the latter two items will be available on Monday, November 15 at

The Board of Park Commissioners is a seven-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Three members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; three members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is appointed by the Park Board. The Board meets the second and fourth Thursday of each month to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters. For more information, please contact Sandy Brooks at 206-684-5066 or

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