Learn More About Solar Panel Installs in The San Juan Islands

Considering Solar in the San Juan Islands?

Solar energy systems give homeowners and businesses the means to become independent from utility rate hikes and to control how they power their homes. With renewable energy from the sun! San Juan Island residents, you all have a unique opportunity to leverage the rainshadow and maximize solar energy production so that you can ensure your home or business uses clean energy and reduce their monthly electricity bill. We love working on the islands and helping the transition to a more sustainable future with solar energy; we have created this page to help you learn more about installing solar panels in the San Juan Islands.

Installing solar panels in the San Juan Islands

Going solar in the San Juan Islands follows the same process as you would in any other location in Washington, with a request for a free estimate! One of our solar technicians will ask some preliminary questions to define your goals for going solar. You can also use this time to ask clarifying questions about the products we use, timeline, and installation details and learn more about our team and us. Then, you’ll receive a preliminary proposal with a solar design, the cost of the system, production numbers, and a return on investment chart for cash and loan options.

The Process

Request a Free Estimate

Receive preliminary proposal

Finalize design to meet goals

Sign contract and pay 10% deposit, trigger review process

Complete site assessment and review process

Pay 60% remaining balance to schedule installation

Install solar, pass inspection, and pay final 30% of remaining balance

Seattle City Light greenlights permission to operate

Incentives for installing solar panels in the San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands cities do not have incentives directly affecting solar. The State of Washington sales tax exemption on solar energy systems applies to installations done in Seattle. Also, all residential solar panel systems qualify for the 30% Federal Tax Credit! Dive into the details of solar incentives, local and national, through the link below.

The solar permit process in the San Juan Islands

Solar permitting in the San Juan Islands is handled primarily through L&I. With a Net Metering and Plan set submission to OPALCO for final solar documentation. Typical timelines for finalizing the document submissions with OPALCO will be around two weeks as they quickly review and process submissions!

Net Metering with OPALCO in the San Juan Islands

Each home connected to OPALCO’s grid will have a billing meter that reads the flow of electricity from the grid toward the house (which is what you pay for on your bill). When you install solar panels on your home, the billing meter will measure the flow of electricity from the house toward the grid.  When you send energy to the grid, you will receive a credit on your electricity bill as a Generation Credit. All Net Metering credits not consumed by April 1st will be compensated via a check at a $0.0675/kWh rate. OPALCO also does not allow for meter aggregation in their service area for solar customers.

OPALCO and Solar Power

With over 500 OPALCO members generating solar electricity the generation capacity is astounding. At the peak of solar energy generation in 2022, OPALCO members with solar panels generated a max of 536,421 kWh! In June of 2023, the peak was 694.437 kWh, a huge increase and an indicator that San Juan Island residents and businesses are using solar energy to take power into their own hands.


How much do solar panel cost in the San Juan Islands?

Residential rooftop solar system costs can vary depending on many factors. The size of the system and the number of solar panels installed on different roof sections adds materials and labor costs. At the same time, the roof’s pitch, the type of roof, and accessibility will also be factored into the final price.

From low to high energy users or a 5kW to 12kW system, the cost can range between $16,500 to $38,000 for the entire system, permit, material, labor, and warranty.

San Juan Island Solar Companies

Northwest Electric and Solar is your one-stop shop for renewable AND Electrical solutions. We are a fully certified commercial and residential electrical company specializing in renewable energy upgrades. Sammamish residents have been a massive part of our business over the last 12 years, whether installing lights, appliances outlets, and EV chargers. We are happy to provide turnkey solutions for home electrification. Installing solar panels occurs on the roof, but it’s an electrician’s job to ensure it’s connected safely and effectively so you can enjoy energy savings for over three decades. The bottom line is that we’re here to stay as Sammamish’s go-to contractor for solar and electrical projects. Start your project today with NWES!

FAQ's for going solar in the San Juan Islands

  • Does solar work in the San Juan Islands?

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    Yes! Solar works in all parts of Washington, especially the San Juan Islands due to the rainshadow effect. Anytime there is daylight, the photovoltaic (PV) panels will produce electricity, with more power produced on sunny days than on cloudy ones. Because we experience very long hours of daylight and sunny weather in summer, power output in July is about six times greater than in December. And Net Metering (one-for-one credit of KWH) allows excess electricity from summer sunshine to be “banked” to reduce subsequent electric bills.

  • What is the average specific production of solar in the San Juan Islands?

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    Specific production is a measure of the efficiency of your system based on solar irradiance, tilt and orientation of your panels to the sun, and the system’s efficiency. On average, the residential buildings in the San Juan Islands can expect their solar energy systems to produce 947 kWh per kW installed. This is due to weather patterns west of the Cascade mountain range, old and complex roof shapes, and dense tree coverage across the city.

  • What happens when there is a power outage in the San Juan Islands?

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    During a power outage, the solar energy system automatically shuts down unless you have battery backup—a required safety feature to protect utility workers working on the power lines in Sammamish. A solar energy system is not a source of backup power. A grid-tied solar energy system requires the presence of the grid or battery energy storage system to function during a power outage.

  • Do I need a battery backup system in the San Juan Islands?

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    Battery backup systems are only needed if you experience frequent power outages and want a backup technology that pairs with solar. Living in the Island County its best to take backup power into your hands in case of any prolonged outages. Fortunately we offer several battery energy storage options to meet your backup needs! Note: you cannot get a return on investment for battery backup systems because there is no Time-of-Use rate for electricity in Washington that would allow you to charge the batteries at a cheaper rate of the day and use the stored energy during the more expensive rate of the day.

  • Can I charge my plug-in electric vehicle from solar in the San Juan Islands?

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    Solar energy produced from your solar panels provides energy for all loads in your home. Charging your EV at home is like powering a load such as a TV or electric stove top. The electricity flowing through your home may be from the grid or your solar panels; if it’s during a sunny, cool day and your panels produce power, there’s a good chance your EV is being charged by the energy you create. If it’s in the afternoon or night, that energy charging your car comes from the grid. Excess power generated during the day is credited to the utility, which then is used at night, so you are still offsetting the usage you’d otherwise be paying for by having solar panels.

  • I’m not sure how long I will live in the San Juan Islands. What happens if I want to sell my house a few years after I go solar?

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    Your house in the San Juan Islands will appeal more to buyers because solar will always have a lower electric bill than a comparable house without solar. The new owner will benefit from Net Metering. You will already have received the federal income tax credit and earned back that portion of your upfront cost. Last, if you received a loan to pay for solar, you need to pay off the loan. A solar array adds more value to your home than it costs. The best thing to do is to leave the solar on the house rather than try to take it with you.

  • Is there enough sunlight in the San Juan Islands for solar?

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    Short answer, Yes! Although it rains and is overcast most of the year, solar in the San Juan Islands work for several important reasons. First, we have long summer days, allowing Washington’s solar panel owners to maximize their energy production and credit their bill through the Net Metering incentive. As we build the credit during the long summer days, savings last throughout the darker winter months. Lastly, the solar access in Washington is greater than that of Germany, which in the 1970s led the EU in solar panel installations and boasts of being the first European nation to adopt solar regardless of its average solar access. 

  • Are the winter months too dark for solar in the San Juan Islands?

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    It depends on the home’s location and orientation towards the south since, in the Winter, the sun’s angle is sharper, thus lower on the horizon, which will cause more shading. The situation surrounding homes will also impact the amount of shade on the roof due to trees, hills, or larger buildings. If your house resides in an open space with no surrounding trees or buildings, you can expect to produce solar energy throughout the Winter! 

Find your San Juan Islands solar panel solution today!

Going solar is a big investment; partnering with the right company can make this process easy and exciting.  Our job at NWES, beyond providing our services, is to educate on how these technologies work and why we are installing them. The bottom line is that partnering with NWES means partnering with a company of fellow Washingtonians on a mission to Electrify Washington!

You can start your process today commitment-free and at no cost with our Free Estimate!