Rows of solar panels reflect sunlight at the Snohomish County PUD’s future Community Solar site near the Arlington Airport. PUD customers will be able to purchase units of the solar array starting April 22. (Snohomish County PUD)

Rows of solar panels reflect sunlight at the Snohomish County PUD’s future Community Solar site near the Arlington Airport. PUD customers will be able to purchase units of the solar array starting April 22. (Snohomish County PUD)

New PUD project makes solar power more accessible to customers

Nearly 2,000 homes have had solar panels installed on their roofs in Snohomish County.

By Snohomish County PUD

Even in Snohomish County, solar power is shining bright.

Snohomish County averages 162 sunny days per year, 42 less than the U.S. average. But that hasn’t stopped Snohomish PUD customers from installing solar panels on their homes. In 2018, nearly 300 customers had solar rooftops installed, bringing the total to 1,925 solar panel installations within the PUD’s service territory.

That’s equal to 15.3 megawatts of solar energy generated right here in the county. Enough clean and renewable energy to power thousands of homes and contribute even more to the grid.

For some customers, though, rooftop solar installations aren’t a possibility. Some customers own a home with a roof that doesn’t get adequate sunlight or is too small for a bunch of solar panels. Others may rent their home or simply can’t afford the cost of installing a solar array. Recent news that the state’s Renewable Energy System Incentive Program is coming to an end has discouraged some as well.

But a new PUD program aims to solve those issues. Snohomish PUD’s first ever Community Solar program will sell individual solar energy units — each solar panel is made up of five solar energy units — to customers interested in supporting clean, renewable and local energy generation. The solar panels that make up the Community Solar program are part of a 500-kilowatt solar array system currently being built in Arlington on the same location as the PUD’s future microgrid.

Community Solar projects have been wildly popular at Clark PUD and Orcas Power and Light Co. The reasons are simple: community solar projects require minimal upfront cost and no installation hassles or maintenance concerns. The PUD owns the physical assets, so customers simply purchase the solar energy output and sit back as the bill credits and state incentives roll in.

“Community Solar is a great way for PUD customers who have considered solar energy to be unattainable in the past to get access to this source of clean and renewable energy, right here in our service territory,” said PUD Community Solar Project Manager Suzy Oversvee.

Fittingly, the PUD will open sales of solar energy units on Earth Day, April 22. The 76-watt solar energy units will sell for $120 each, with participants receiving monthly credits on their bills equal to their portion of the system’s production.

Solar generation isn’t the only way customers can use the sun to their benefit. When spring temperatures dip, use the natural warmth of the sun to heat your home. Open the shades on south-facing window during the day and close them at night to keep the warmth in.

Also, the longer and sunnier days of spring and summer can be a great time to hang your laundry to dry and give your dryer a break.

Community Solar

Learn more about this new program at a PUD Community Solar Open House April 11 at the Monroe Public Library, 1070 Village Way, Monroe. There will presentations at 5:30 and 6:15 p.m. For more, visit www.snopud.com/communitysolar.

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