Backbone Community Solar Project Is Ready for Investors!


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Backbone Community Solar Project Is Ready for Investors!

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Dear Backbone Members,Community Solar Project Q&A

The Backbone Community Solar Project (“Backbone CSP”) is a local laboratory project of the Backbone Campaign. Today, we are deeply proud to announce that the Backbone Community Solar Project is ready for investors! Below is a bit of the story of the journey we have taken and basic information on the project. For downloadable investor information visit

In gratitude & Collaboration,

Bill, Carol, Cathy and Team Backbone


For the last two ye ars a small and changing group of dedicated and skilled community members have moved community solar from dream to reality. Through a journey and process of our own education, a community survey, countless meetings, site visits, legal and financial consultations, document preparation and regulatory reviews… we are now ready to come to you with a solid opportunity to make community solar a reality on Vashon Island and utilize the generous incentive provided through the Washington State Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery legislation!

Finding a Public Host
Washington law requires the community solar system to be hosted on a public property. Because we feel this is a project that demonstrates our commitment to and an opportunity to educate the next generation, we spent about a year exploring possibilities with the Vashon School District. Though VISD was a willing partner, the engineering on existing buildings and timing of new construction made it impossible at this time.

King Co. Transfer Station site


So last fall we began a negotiation process with King County. We proposed a site at the retired landfill and transfer station on Vashon. Despite the complexity of the challenge, our shared desire to forge a path forward resulted in an excellent win/win agreement that is in its final stage of approval with the KC Council. We are also proud that though this is not the first community solar project in King County, it will be the first on King County property. As such, the lease agreement and much of the related work can serve as a model for others in the County and likely elsewhere.   

A Regulatory Hurdle
The last and perhaps most challenging process has been with the Washington State DFI (Department of Financial Institutions). Shares in the system are considered a security. After months of honing documents with the help of a securities lawyer, on August 7, our Nonprofit Notification of Claim of Exemption was acknowledged “without further comment” by DFI. This allows us to offer shares of the Backbone CSP to Backbone Campaign’s members without them needing to be accredited investors. Organizing the Community Solar System under the umbrella of Backbone Campaign’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status has other benefits as well that are made clear in our investor Questions & Answers document and investor presentation.

Basic information about the project:
Investors in the CSP will directly fund a grid-tied solar photovoltaic array that provides power for a local public facility. In this case, the array will be installed at the Vashon Recycling and Transfer Station. The installed system will be rated at approximately 50 kW to 66 kW, depending on the amount of investment raised. Investors will own the array and be able to take advantage of Cost Recovery Incentives provided by Washington State.

VERY IMPORTANT: Investors must meet certain requirements:

  • Be a Puget Sound Energy (“PSE”) account holder;
  • Have their primary residence in Washington State;
  • And, prior to solicitation, have been a contributor, volunteer, or participant in a BC sponsored event or educational program, or be a relative of such a person. (See our Questions and Answers document in the sidebar for more on this requirement.)

Investors may purchase units of the CSP at $1,000 per unit up to a maximum investment of $30,000.   

Upcoming Presentations:
You are not required to attend a presentation in order to invest; the Questions and Answers document and the Application to Invest are all you need to begin the investment process. However, if you would like to attend one of our informative sessions, choose between the below:

  • Wednesday, August 22 5-7pm Sheffield Bldg. Conference Rm., (map) RSVP required
  • Friday, August 24 12-2pm Sheffield Bldg. Conference Rm., (map) RSVP required
  • Monday, August 27 private house party, RSVP required
  • Thursday, August 30 7-9pm Vashon Land Trust building, RSVP suggestedthe next Vashon Land Trust Building, 10014 Southwest Bank Road. (map)

In order to attend, you must meet the investor requirements listed above. Please call 206-408-8058 to reserve a seat.

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