Units at the Snohomish County Public Utility District’s 2-acre community solar project. (A&R Solar)

Units at the Snohomish County Public Utility District’s 2-acre community solar project. (A&R Solar)

Bite-sized solar powers programs at two local nonprofits

Solar energy panels in Arlington will generate savings for organizations in Everett and Stanwood.

EVERETT — Two Snohomish County nonprofits have some new funders — 417 solar energy units in Arlington.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District teamed up with Everett’s HopeWorks and the Community Resource Center of Stanwood-Camano to pass along energy bill savings to income-qualified clients.

Last year, the PUD launched the Community Solar program to make solar power more accessible. It allows homeowners and apartment-dwellers alike to buy into panels in Arlington.

PUD customers purchased units from a 2-acre array just west of the Arlington Municipal Airport, in the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center. Each unit consists of one-fifth of a solar panel and costs $120.

The units went up for sale on Earth Day, April 22, and were all spoken for by May 15.

The PUD also set aside 10% of the panels for a low-income program.

“Our number one goal with Community Solar was to increase access to solar over our service area,” program manager Suzy Oversvee said. “We didn’t expect income-qualified customers to make that upfront investment.”

With that 10%, the PUD created a four-year grant program.

HopeWorks and the Community Resource Center will be the first recipients. They were selected from a pool of nonprofits and government organizations that applied in November. Each of the organizations will receive about $7,000 per year from the energy generated by their solar units. Over the course of the four-year grant, they’ll receive about $28,000.

The center will use its funds for an already existing program that helps income-qualified clients with their energy bills.

“These energy credits help us provide a more holistic approach to alleviating the effects of poverty,” Executive Director Joanna Dobbs said in a news release. “With another revenue source for energy assistance, we can free up funds for other essential services that normally cannot be addressed.”

HopeWorks will pass along savings to those who complete its 13-week internship program in landscaping, retail or food services to put toward their energy bills.

The PUD’s partnership with the nonprofits is part of a larger push to partner with local organizations doing good thing, spokesperson Cayle Thompson said.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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