SNOHOMISH, Wash. - When Snohomish voters approved a 2008 school levy, they probably had no idea how much power they were putting into a new elementary school.
About 100 kilowatts, according to contractors installing the largest solar power field on any school west of Cascades.
Workers are almost done installing 100 state-of-the-art solar panels on the top of Machias Elementary School. These new panels are light, easy to install and, according to project leaders, perfect for Puget Sound weather conditions.
"They can produce power any time there is daylight," said project manager Kurt Trester with Heery International.
Mike Scott of Foy Industrial, which is installing the panels, said a crew of two can install a row of eight in panels in less than 10 minutes. That's a far cry from the old technology that took weeks to install and could only produce power during sunny days.
By the time students arrive in their new school after winter break, the panels should be producing a full 25 percent of the school's energy needs. At that rate, Scott estimates the system will pay for itself in less than ten years.