BI seeks more EV, solar participation

City Councilmembers seemed shocked that Puget Sound Energy hasn’t done more with electric vehicle charging and solar power on Bainbridge Island, considering how much residents favor such actions.

“None are on Bainbridge?” Councilmember Joe Deets asked PSE representatives at the council meeting Feb. 21. “Bainbridge is very interested in solar.”

PSE says in a Powerpoint that as part of pilot projects in Kitsap County, it set up five charging stations in multifamily and workplace projects and 15 in residential projects, leading to almost 5,406 gallons of gas saved and nearly 53 tons of CO2 avoided.

Some councilmembers said BI wanted to be a part of that, but projects were rejected, although Deets said one at the fire station certainly should have qualified.

Councilmember Leslie Schneider asked if PSE could help BI come up with appropriate sites. She said an open space like a park-and-ride could be a good possibility.

The Powerpoint says a minimum of 20,000 square feet is needed for installation of solar panels. The area needs to be clear of obstructions. Southern exposure that is unshaded for the majority of daylight hours throughout the year is ideal.

PSE officials said they will be expanding beyond the pilots soon, and it will be easier to get involved. Taxing districts such as schools, parks and fire will no longer have to go through a competitive process to be part of the solar power system. They need a minimum of 10,000 square feet of open roof or ground spaces.

There are lots of options for multifamily systems, which are open for applications. Starting March 31, applications will be taken for systems dealing with fleets. Late next fall, applications will be taken for workplaces. Early next year, to get more single families involved, there will be incentives for them to buy their own rather than PSE-owned chargers. Public charging stations will have the option of PSE-owned or agency-owned next year. For details, go to

Schneider said if an entity, such as a church, wanted solar to power its own facility, it would be smart for PSE to allow that. Currently, the host site has no advantage, as power goes to applicants in the general grid.

“Why doesn’t it benefit the property owner?” Deets asked. “Something is amok. That would increase the number of projects in our community.”

Kate Haartgering of PSE agreed that could be a disincentive. She said that could be brought up to PSE’s product development team. She added that subscribers who receive solar power can see a reduction in their bills. And low-income folks can subscribe without charge and still get a credit to reduce their bills.

Mike Cox, vice chair of BI’s Climate Change Advisory Committee, said the city’s Climate Action Plan wants to eliminate carbon-based energy sources by 2040; increase energy conservation; transition the city’s fleet to 75% electric vehicles by 2045; transition registered private vehicles to EV by 80% by 2045; and create energy infrastructure.