Greener Power for Kirkland’s Fleet and Buildings

two charging stations at Marina Park parking lotYou might not know about some of the ways the City of Kirkland is working to reduce climate emissions both at the City and in the Kirkland community. As a founding member city of the King County – Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C), we’ve committed to focus on “practical, near-term, collaborative opportunities between cities and King County” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even before joining the K4C, our Fleet and Planning departments have been working on ways to cut energy usage in the community: offering public charging stations for electric vehicles, buying hybrid fleet vehicles at the City, running the Solarize Kirkland campaign to make solar panels more affordable, and adding solar panels to City Hall to act as a model for the community.

Going Electric in Kirkland

Public Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles

Did you know the City of Kirkland has five public charging stations for electric cars around downtown?

There’s one at City Hall, two at the Marina parking lot, and two at the Peter Kirk parking lot under the Kirkland library. The Stage II (240 volt) charging stations offer a fast recharge time. The stations average 14 to 15 unique charging sessions a day, totaling over 5000 sessions during the last 12 months – and a total of over 16,600 charge-ups since their installation in 2013! The 3 years of charging station use represent a savings of 14,648 gallons of gas, and 47,648 kg of greenhouse gas emissions.

Update 11/15/2016: As part of the remodel process, the City will be adding four more charging stations to accommodate forecast growth in electric vehicles for our fleet.

Hybrids and Electric Vehicles at the City of Kirkland

Twenty-six of the City of Kirkland’s forty passenger-style vehicles are hybrids, and the City of Kirkland fleet recently added its first plug-in hybrid vehicle. Chief Cherie Harris welcomed the opportunity to accept the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi as a replacement vehicle, bringing the Police Department’s hybrid vehicle count up to twelve.

The Ford Energi can drive 19 miles on electricity alone, then a gas engine kicks in to charge the battery and the car continues to run on the hybrid electric drive. After two weeks of using the new Ford Fusion Energi, Lt. John Haslip of the Kirkland Police Department reported back, “So far I’ve managed to keep it charged and run solely off electric power and have not used any gas….albeit short trips. Definitely reduces that carbon footprint.” If the car uses the “gas charging” mode only, it will achieve 42 mpg from a full tank of gas, but during combined highway/city driving should average 97 mpg gallon. The parking lot at the new Kirkland Justice Center was built with several plug-ins adjacent to parking stalls, perfect for complete 7-hour overnight charging of the new hybrid.

Buying hybrids and EV’s has long been a goal of all government agencies to reduce pollution and dependence upon foreign oil. The City purchased its first hybrid car in 2003, and also operates a bio-diesel vehicle, a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle , and a dedicated 12 passenger dedicated propane van. Hybrids and electric vehicles are more expensive upfront than conventional automobiles, so Kirkland’s Fleet Supervisor is responsible for locating the additional funding needed to purchase them as they become economically viable for the City.

Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold with student and solar panel for City Hall

Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold with solar panel for City Hall

Running on Solar Power

Solar at City Hall

As part of the City Hall renovation, the City Council approved installation of a 75 kW system on the roof of City Hall – enough energy to power eight homes for a year. They were inspired by a presentation by students of the International Community School.

“You are young leaders that are absolutely inspirational to us,” said Mayor Amy Walen after the students’ June 2015 presentation. “And thank you for your work, reminding us of our role as strong leaders.”

solar panels being installed at a house with a lakefront viewSolarizing the Community

The City’s also encouraged solar adoption in Kirkland by streamlining the permitting process for solar installation and offering the Solarize Kirkland program for two years in a row. The program provided a reduced cost and easy installation of solar panels through a “bulk buy” of solar arrays and a designated installation contractor. Through the program, 55 homeowners have installed systems at home, adding 326 kW of solar power generation in Kirkland. The program’s solar contractor has already donated a solar array to the Kirkland organization Friends of Youth, and if they reach 65 installations will donate another array to Attain Housing.