The Snohomish County PUD under the Planet Power program and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) through its grants for renewable energy projects will fund solar energy projects. The solar panel will be installed at Cedar Wood Elementary School in Mill Creek, Snohomish High School, Stanwood High School, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, and Mukilteo City Hall.

“We’re pleased to provide the resources for our customers to generate electricity from this carbon-free energy source,” Snohomish County PUD General Manager Steve Klein said. “Our focus on solar and other green energy is driven by our strong interest in reducing climate change, promoting greater energy independence and encouraging local renewable energy generation.”

Solar panels will be installed at five sites this year, as follows:

Cedar Wood Elementary School (Mill Creek) – The project supports the existing science curriculum. It also will partner with the utility to host a “Power of Solar” community event to share information about its solar installation.

Snohomish High School – The project is consistent with its energy-efficient systems and sustainability efforts, including the school’s horticulture facility. It will host outreach efforts to share the results of its solar project.

Stanwood High School – The solar installation complements other environmental education through the school’s agriculture and aquaculture programs, including a salmon fry release program at a local river.

Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream (Maltby) – The solar energy system builds on a series of sustainable features at this business related to energy efficiency and saving water. The business regularly hosts tours to share the results of such efforts.

Mukilteo City Hall – The solar installation is consistent with a range of energy efficient and environmental features at the public building, which is slated to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification.

Each of the solar energy systems rely on photovoltaic panels, which convert energy from the sun using positively- and negatively-charged slices of silicon to generate electricity. The systems will generate up to 2,200 kilowatt-hours per year. The power generated will be enough to power an average utility’s home for about two months. Several of the sites will track electricity generation through interactive kiosks to share data with students and the public.

In addition, this spring Snohomish County PUD will introduce a new solar program for customers interested in installing photovoltaic systems and solar hot water systems. The program will offer low interest loans and cash incentives as well as educational support. Besides this, the utility plans to install a solar energy demonstration system at its headquarters in Everett.