City of Bellevue wins SolSmart award

Recently, Bellevue has been awarded with a bronze SolSmart award. “The City of Bellevue is very proud of this award, which recognizes our work over the past several years to make it easier and less expensive for residents to install solar on their roofs,” said Jennifer Ewing, Bellevue’s Environmental Stewardship program manager.
“To promote solar energy use, the city has improved our codes and permitting processes. We’ve also facilitated group purchases of solar arrays as well as performed education and outreach campaigns about the benefits of renewable energy sources,” Ewing explained. “In partnership with Spark Northwest, the City of Bellevue pursued this recognition to gain recognition as a “solar-friendly” community to help catalyze more installations of solar.”
According to the Bellevue Reporter, in order to receive this award cities make it easier and more efficient to install solar systems by adapting the required processes. “This includes evaluating local permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in areas such as market development and finance.” SolSmart gives communities with points based on the actions they take to make solar power more accessible.
Bellevue has dramatically improved its methods and projects to make the city easily solar-powered by its residents. “The number of projects completed per year have dramatically increased from only one project installed in 2002 to 93 installed in 2014 – largely as a result of a successful ‘Solarize Bellevue’ campaign. At the end of 2016, the total number of solar projects installed was 254,” Ewing further explained. According to the city’s website under Emission Reductions, the majority of these projects were residential.
“Our goal has been to support solar energy by utilizing a simple, consistent solar permit process for residents and businesses,” the Bellevue Reporter quoted the environmental planning manager for the city’s Development Services Department, Heidi Bedwell. “It’s been an ongoing process, but Bellevue has been able to help cut the cost of solar and make it a more viable clean energy option,” Bedwell explained.
Over the years, Bellevue’s involvement in green power have also increased. “Green power is represented as a negative emission reduction,” since “green power avoids the normal regional grid emissions per kWh and are counted as Renewable Energy Credits.” Green power refers to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, etc. “In 2016 alone a reduction of 16,400 tons of greenhouse gas emissions was due to green power purchasing,” the website also states.
“SolSmart provides recognition and no-cost technical assistance to help local governments reduce barriers to solar energy growth. With the help of our team of national and local experts, cities, counties and towns are cutting red tape to make it easier for homes and businesses to go solar,” the SolSmart website states. “By encouraging solar energy development at the local level, SolSmart helps local governments bring new businesses to their community, promote economic growth, and foster the creation of new jobs.”
Anyone interested in finding out more information about the award and why it was won can go to