Solar panels are installed Friday afternoon at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville on April 21, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Team effort helps Marysville Pilchuck High go solar

MARYSVILLE — Older schools consume a lot more power.

The 1970s-era Marysville Pilchuck High School uses about four times as much as Marysville Getchell. The latter campus opened in 2010.

Marysville Pilchuck and the Snohomish County Public Utility District have teamed up on a new project to add solar panels to the roof of the school’s pool building. The goal is to conserve electricity but also to promote education and careers in renewable energy.

The $39,943 project is the first of its kind in the school district. It is funded by Planet Power, an arm of the PUD that supports solar projects using customer donations. The panels are expected to generate 11,365 kilowatt hours a year, a small fraction of the school’s consumption.

The contractor, Arlington Electric, is wrapping up. The panels are expected to go live this week.

Teachers can bring out classes to look at the panels and talk about the science and technology involved, district spokeswoman Emily Wicks said.

An exhibit about the solar project is planned for the open house June 10 for the new cafeteria. A television screen also will be set up, maybe in the gymnasium foyer, to show students and visitors year-round how much energy is being generated, Wicks said.

Since 2009, there have been 34 Planet Power projects in Snohomish County and on Camano Island, PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said. The locations are primarily schools, nonprofits and public agencies, including high schools in Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Lakewood, Lake Stevens and Sultan.

Less than 1 percent of PUD’s power comes from solar energy, but it’s growing, he said. The utility also offers incentives for homes and businesses to go solar.

“There is solar potential here, even though there are a lot of cloudy days,” he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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