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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 24, 2011

Council Roundup: Solar panels for city buildings?

The City Council on Tuesday approved a new use of city-owned property: solar projects, located on leased roof space at municipal buildings.

"Community solar" projects, as they are known, have been encouraged by state legislation to provide incentives for groups, including nonprofits and non-utility businesses, to install small solar energy projects on public property. Federal tax credits for renewable energy are available through the end of 2011.

Bellevue has a few roof sites that could work for community solar projects, such as the Bellevue Service Center and the North Bellevue Community Center. Each project could generate up to enough energy to power approximately six homes per year.
The initial cost to install a solar array would be paid for by members of a community solar organization. The amount each member pays would depend on how many members are in the group. They could recoup their investment through incentive payments as specified in the state legislation. There would be no cost to the city. 

The City of Bellevue will solicit proposals from community solar groups who want to sign a long-term lease for selected roof space. Lease amounts have not yet been determined.

Supporters tout several benefits of community-owned solar projects, noting that they: support Washington's clean technology industry, create jobs, generate electrical power locally and give community members ways to back efforts that reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution.

For more information, view the Council Study Session item at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession2-22-112b.pdf.

Feedback: Sheida Sahandy, Assistant to the City Manager, 425-452-6168, ssahandy@bellevuewa.gov

Coal Creek Natural Area trail improvements
The council approved an $87,500 contract with the state Department of Ecology for improvements to trails in the 450-acre Coal Creek Natural Area. Over six months, the DOE's Washington Conservation Corps is expected to perform clearing and grading, drainage enhancement and resurfacing to restore more than a mile of trail. 

In 2004, Bellevue acquired the Coal Creek Natural Area from King County; the four-plus miles of trail in the area were in a state of disrepair. In 2005, city Parks staff completed an inventory of the trail system to prioritize projects needed to provide safe, year-round access to a wide range of users. 

Since then, a combination of volunteer, city and WCC projects have resulted in about a mile of renovated trails, along with six new bridges and improvements to several trailheads. Parks staff hopes to have half of the Coal Creek trails safe and usable by September, when this project will be complete.

Feedback: Dan DeWald, Parks & Community Services Natural Resource Manager, 425-452-6048, ddewald@bellevuewa.gov

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