Nov. 20, 2019
Sphere Solar | Seattle Solar Installation

Solarize Northwest: Bringing Solar to 45 Mercer Island Households

Back in 2015, when we started Sphere Solar, we had a vision: to bring well-designed and impeccably installed solar arrays to every Seattle-area household that wanted one. We’ve since completed hundreds of solar installations across the state of Washington, and we had the opportunity to expand that work even further when local non-profit Spark Northwest and the Mercer Island community chose us to carry out their solarize campaign. We are so grateful to the 45 homeowners that chose Sphere Solar, and to Puget Sound Energy for making this campaign a success.

Standing at a booth at the Mercer Island Summer Celebration, a Solarize campaign volunteer explains the benefits of the installing solar to a resident of the area.
Mercer Island Solarize campaign representatives like Brian Emmanuels (pictured) were out at community events such as the Mercer Island Summer Celebration, educating the community about the benefits of participation.


Solarize Campaign An Opportunity to Increase Solar Installations

When Mercer Island community leaders like Kim Rice and City representatives put their heads together in 2017, there were 112 solar installations on the island. It was a good start for a relatively small community, but they also recognized a significant opportunity to increase local clean energy generation, and decided to run their own Solarize campaign.

Solarize is a model that has been used throughout the country to expand solar uptake. It leverages the relationships and trusted reputations of local community-based organizations to generate interest in solar installations. Gathering that demand together saves local solar installers like Sphere Solar time and energy, and allows them to purchase panels, inverters, and other hardware in bulk – saving participants money on labor as well equipment.

A Sphere Solar Energy crew members bolt a panel in place on the metal rooftop of a Mercer Island home.
The Sphere Solar Energy team installs panels on a rooftop that received solar as part of the Mercer Island Solarize Campaign. Sphere led all technical and installation aspects of the initiative.


Spark Northwest, a local non-profit that promotes equitable and locally controlled renewable energy resources, has run more than 20 Solarize campaigns throughout the Northwest, and suggested the idea of a Solarize campaign to leaders in Mercer Island. The idea sparked the community to action, and they immediately started looking for partners that could help them run a successful campaign.

Assembling a Seattle Solar Dream Team

At Sphere Solar, we pride ourselves on being deeply rooted in our community. We’ve been based in Lake City since our founding in 2015, and our business mostly comes through word of mouth from happy clients. We also place a lot of value in the local organizations and governments that build our communities up and hold them together, and we do our best to find ways to collaborate with them to make solar possible for more Seattle households.

Mercer Island Solarize volunteers pose with a Sphere Solar banner as they prepare to participate in the parade at the community's summer celebration. Two volunteers have colorful wings attached to their arms.
Solarize campaign volunteers lead Sphere Solar’s float in the Mercer Island Summer Celebration parade.


After expressing our interest in the campaign and interviewing with the City of Mercer Island and, we were selected as the official community-selected partner of the campaign. We were honored to have the Mercer Island Solarize team place their confidence in us to deliver high-quality and cost-effective solar panel installations for this campaign – and all that remained was to get to work.

Solarize Dramatically Expanded Solar Installations on Mercer Island

The Solarize campaign team worked tirelessly over the following months to get the word out – holding educational workshops, publicizing the opportunity in local media, and reaching out directly to local households. We educated hundreds of local residents about the benefits of solar energy, and by the end of the campaign we had installed 470 kilowatts of new solar panels on 45 households across the island. Puget Sound Energy was an active partner throughout the process, helping to get these solar arrays connected to the electric grid and to distribute the bill credits to the new solar households.

Together with the enthusiastic Islanders that made it all possible, we increased solar generation on the island by 50 percent in just six months! And most of the solar systems were expected to pay off in about seven years (lower than the state average of almost nine years) – bringing hundreds of extra dollars in savings to Islander families!

Sphere Solar Energy’s Andrew Birdwell stands on a rooftop in front of a newly-installed residential solar array in Mercer Island.
Sphere Solar Energy’s Andrew Birdwell stands in front of another of the 45 solar installations that we completed last year on Mercer Island.


What’s Next: Expanding Solar in Seattle

The Mercer Island Solarize campaign is a great example of what a community can do when we get together and push for a more sustainable future. We’re already exploring new collaborations in Seattle and in communities where solar can have an even greater impact.

So, what can you do? Do you want solar on your own household? Do you want to bring solarize to your community? Get in touch using the contact form below:


    (Header image: A completed 6.5 kW solar installation that Sphere Solar completed on the roof of Peter Donaldson, of our Solarize campaign volunteers. The array was designed to cover 100% of his home’s energy usage.)