Solar panels

Solar panels are installed at Wesley United Methodist Church in Yakima in 2016.

A new campaign encouraging adoption of solar-powered energy could soon be coming to Yakima.

A resolution on the Yakima City Council’s Tuesday agenda authorizes an agreement with Spark Northwest, a Seattle-based nonprofit founded in 2001 that supports local efforts for residents in Washington and Oregon to invest in solar energy.

Under the terms of the agreement, Spark Northwest would provide training and technical assistance to a volunteer committee of residents, who would ultimately choose and purchase a solar contractor through a formal public bidding process.

The group purchase would reduce the often-high upfront cost of installing residential solar systems.

The “Solarize Yakima” campaign would involve little, if any, out-of-pocket expenses for the city, City Manager Cliff Moore wrote. A grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and distributed by the Washington State Department of Commerce, would cover the cost for the campaign, estimated at between $25,000 and $30,000.

City staff would, however, need to invest a moderate amount of time to help with recruitment, promotion and reservation of meeting space for the campaign, Moore noted.

The agreement outlines the various roles and responsibilities for the agencies involved. Spark Northwest would act as the overall campaign manager. The nonprofit would provide status reports, help community volunteers draft a formal request for a proposal for the bidding process, develop the campaign’s branding and website and work with the city of Yakima to market and distribute outreach materials.

The city would serve as the “face” of the campaign, helping to recruit volunteers to serve on the campaign committee, promoting the campaign through the city’s social media and communications platforms and providing meeting space.

The solar installation company selected by the volunteer committee would manage all site evaluations, work contracts and solar system installations for residents and businesses, provide customer service and maintain and keep current data about resident participation in the project.

The resolution notes that Solarize campaigns typically last about nine months. The agreement, if adopted by the council, would begin in July.

Reach Lex Talamo at or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.