Solar Plus Team

The Solar Plus project brings together many diverse agencies and organizations representing utilities, environmental justice organizations, renewable energy advocates, government, and the solar industry. Partners collaborate to develop and implement strategies that enhance solar adoption as well as to build energy equity and resiliency.

Led by the Washington State Department of Commerce and Spark Northwest, the Solar Plus team includes representatives from: Front and Centered, Verde, Northwest Energy Coalition, Renewable Northwest, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association, Solar Installers of Washington, Oregon Department of Energy, Energy Trust of Oregon, Washington State University Energy Program, Oregon Public Utility Commission, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission,  Puget Sound Energy, and Snohomish Public Utility District.

Spokane Tribe’s Children of the Sun Solar Initiative

Spokane Tribe launches ‘Children of the Sun’ solar initiative, with long-range plans for energy independence.  Installation of 650 kW of solar is underway for 23 homes and nine Tribal community buildings, including the Tribal Administrative Building, Spokane Tribe Senior Center and senior housing, and the Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery. GRID Alternatives is providing hands-on solar installation training for Tribal employees and community members throughout construction.

Solar Plus Project Work Teams

Partners are working to implement strategies in key areas. The following teams or topics are the focus of Solar Plus efforts.

Community Solar

The Community Solar Work Group convenes utility partners in Washington State to share strategies for deploying community solar that delivers benefits to low income residents.  Spark Northwest developed a white paper reflecting the lessons learned and path forward for community solar in Washington. In addition, they developed two case studies of utility Community Solar in Washington, OPALCO’s Decatur Island project and Snohomish PUD’s Arlington Microgrid.


Community and Grid Resilience

Solar Plus NW Utility-Scale Battery Storage Workshops

Utility-Scale Battery Storage Workshop, Salem

In November, Solar Plus Partner Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) presented three Battery Storage Workshops, the first in Bend Oregon, The second in Sequim, WA and the third in Salem, OR.   The workshops in Sequim and Salem targeted utility engineers and included primarily technical content. Attendees learned, from utility representatives,  how northwest utilities are enhancing local energy resiliency through the use of battery storage systems coupled to solar installations. Utility representatives from Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Portland General Electric (PGE), and the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EW&EB) gave presentations on their respective energy storage projects: PSE’s Glacier Battery Storage Project and other PSE demonstration projects, PGE’s Salem Smart Energy Center, and the EW&EB’s Grid Edge Project at the Howard Elementary School in Eugene. In addition to the utility presentations, Dan Borneo of Sandia National Laboratories and Vince Sprenkle of Pacific Northwest National Labs, presented an overview of the DOE Office of Electricity Energy Storage Program, the Current State of Battery Technology, and Commissioning, Safety and Deployment of Energy Storage.  The workshop in Bend contained less technical content and was targeted to community leaders engaged in energy issues. Rob Del Mar (ODOE) gave an overview of solar plus storage and other energy resiliency initiatives underway in the Northwest. Del Mar would like to replicate these workshops in 2019 now the content is refined. If interested, please contact Rob at:

Building Community Solar and Resilience in WA

In Washington utilities are pursuing solar for grid resilience, as seen in two partner installations: OPALCO is engineering a 0.5 megawatt /2 megawatt-hour battery at the Decatur Island Substation alongside the community solar system, the point of interconnection with the mainland transmission system.  To learn more read Solar Plus NW case study:  Community Solar at Decatur Island.

Snohomish PUD is planning an “Arlington Microgrid” to include a 500-kilowatt solar array with smart inverters and a 1 MW/1 MWh lithium-ion battery storage system to power the PUD’s local office in the event of an emergency.  To learn more read Solar Plus NW case study: Building Community Resilience.

Neighborhood Energy Planning

Solar Pathways for Multifamily Affordable Housing Providers

Access Solar is a joint initiative of Spark Northwest and Emerald Cities Seattle to expand solar energy access to communities that have been left out of the transition to clean energy because of policy, capacity or financing barriers. On-site solar energy can help to stabilize operating costs for organizations that support under served communities. In coordination with Emerald Cities Seattle’s RENEW program for energy efficiency, we design and develop solar projects that help affordable housing providers thrive. Learn more here at ACCESS SOLAR.

Verde Launches New Solar Energy After School Program in Cully Neighborhood

In Response to The Living Cully Community Energy Plan , Verde and Hacienda Community Development Corp’s  After school program Expresiones, have teamed up to launch a pilot Solar energy afterschool program in the Cully Neighborhood.

The Living Cully Community Energy Plan is a neighborhood-scale energy plan that identifies energy conservation and energy generation pilots for the Cully neighborhood. The Energy Plan creates a blueprint for how we can prevent

Students Wiring Solar Cells for Community Solar Panel

displacement through increased investments in the energy sector. By investing in public education and community service we can lift up a community-led, anti-displacement vision of climate action.

Students Brainstorm Renewable Energy Sources

The after school program provides interactive and accessible STEM learning within the context of localized energy generation. Students learn about community based energy projects while also working on their own solar energy project with their peers. During the seven week curriculum, students get hands on experience in the technical aspects of building a solar panel. The after school program coincides with the current 78 kW solar installation at St. Charles Church and serves to encourage Cully youth to b

Students Wiring Solar Cells for Community Solar Panel

uild excitement around future solar investments in the neighborhood. The educational program culminates with a site visit to St. Charles Church where students will interview solar professionals from the project crew. Verde expects to implement a second round of the solar curriculum in the neighborhood in the spring, with a final curriculum being produced in summer 2019. The Solar Curriculum is possible through  Solar Plus funds.  For more information, please contact:

Group Purchase

In 2018, Spark Northwest launched four group purchase campaigns, reaching new markets and deploying their first Spanish language workshop in Yakima County.  We educated 337 people in Solarize workshops, signed 58 contracts for installations representing half a megawatt of solar and created 3 new green jobs.  As the Washington state incentives run out, we are targeting outreach to farms and rural small businesses which are eligible for USDA REAP grants. Looking ahead to 2019, we have issued a “Call for Partnersto identify new underrepresented communities. We look forward to working with Homestead Community Land Trust in King County and we are seeking other partners from across Oregon and Washington.

Edwin Sphere Solar with customer Herman Wacker. Photo by Kim Rice.

Workforce & Economic Development

The Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (OSEIA) has created an infographic to demonstrate the benefits and policy needs of the four solar markets in Oregon. “This educational tool details the importance of the four solar markets and the need for supportive state policy in each” says Angela Crowley-Koch, Executive Director of  OSEIA.

OSEIA with The Solar Foundation Training Network, has published the case study, Collaborative Regional Workforce Development for an Inclusive Solar Future, on workforce development in Oregon and the workforce development workshops they hosted last December.  This case study supplements the Solar Training Network’s toolkit, Strategies for Solar Workforce Development, and demonstrates how industry organizations can champion regionally adaptive workforce initiatives.

In 2018, OSEIA organized two workforce workshops dedicated to discussing diversity and inclusion.  The goal for these workshops is for business owners and managers to begin creating plans to be more intentional about engaging, recruiting, and retaining their talent differently. The workshops presented a number of resources that will allow the attendees to begin building a plan. OSEIA’s goal is to put tools and resources into the solar industry decision makers hands now so when they move through the hiring process they can do so in a thoughtful and informed way that engages with a more diverse audience. The workshops were hosted in Portland and Eugene and drew business owners and industry members from solar installers, insurance firms, electrical distributors, labor unions, advocacy and non-profit stakeholders, and state agencies.

Serilda Summers-McGee presenting of Workplace Change in Portland

Solar News in the Region

Solar Newsbriefs

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