The Hummingbird Community Solar Project was selected as a Meaningful Benefit Category Special Recognition winner for Community Ownership for the Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, an initiative of the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP).
The NCSP, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), supports a coalition of stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every U.S. household and enable communities to realize meaningful benefits, such as greater household savings, low- to moderate-income (LMI) household access, increased resilience, community ownership, and equitable workforce development. NCSP is working toward a 2025 target to enable community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households and generate a cumulative $1 billion in energy bill savings.
The Sunny Awards were launched in 2022 to recognize community solar projects and programs that employ best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities. Meaningful benefits are key outcomes of community solar development identified by the NCSP. These community solar benefits bring positive impacts to the households, organizations, and the surrounding communities where the projects are developed and operate.
- Project Name: Hummingbird Community Solar Project
- Location: Olympia, Washington, United States
- Project Size: 117 KW
- Project Subscribers: 83 Private citizens, 14 Local Nonprofits
- Year Energized: February 2021
- Lead Organization: Olympia Community Solar
- Partner Organizations: The Hands On Children’s Museum, The City of Olympia, A&R Solar
- Business Model: Community-owned
- State or Utility Program Leveraged: N/A
- Bill Savings: $12,000 in electricity savings generated in first year
- LMI Access: N/A
Meaningful Benefits Best Practices
Olympia Community Solar is a community-owned solar project that aims to address barriers to solar energy by making it affordable and accessible to everyone. The Hummingbird Community Solar project features 297 solar panels installed on the roof of the Hands On Children’s Museum that were made available for purchase by local residents at a low cost. The project has 83 private participants and 14 non-profit organizations as owners. While the solar panels themselves remain on the roof of the museum, residents can purchase panels for their own benefit or donate their solar unit to one of the nonprofit partners, such as Thurston County Food Bank.
The solar generation is guaranteed dollars for organizations in need of consistent financial support. The community ownership model developed by Olympia Community Solar allows for direct ownership of the solar panels, meaning the private participants can claim tax credits and have direct ownership of the solar resource, unlike other community solar programs. The Hands On Children’s Museum is the project host and leases rooftop space for the solar array, while also receiving a discounted electricity rate. Once the system reaches its payback period, ownership will be donated to the museum and is estimated to save the museum more than $500,000 over the project’s lifetime.