Just days after southern California’s San Dieguito Union High School District installed solar “carports” above parking areas at two of its high schools, northern California’sJefferson Union High School District (JUHSD), just south of SanFrancisco, completed a similar project of its own.
JUHSD has installed solar energy systems at four of the district’shigh schools: Oceana High School, Terra Nova High School, Westmoor HighSchool and Jefferson High School. The four projects combined, according to AZO Cleantech, add up to a 1.5-megawatt (MW) installation, will use over 8,500 solarphotovoltaic (PV) panels and will generate over 2.3 millionkilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar energy during year one. That’s an amountof electricity roughly equal to the annual needs of 200 typical American households.
Check out this picture, courtesy of Perpetual Energy Systems, of Oceana High School’s rooftop solar installation:
Unlike the San Diego solar energy systems, which are owed outright by the school district, the San Francisco Bay Area solar projects werefinanced via a power purchasing agreement (PPA) with Perpetual EnergySystems (PES) — a California-based company that specializes in thefinancing and developing of large-scale solar energy systems. Thedistrict will buy the power from PES at a rate lower than what the local utility company would charge.
Over the next 25 years, each school is expecting the clean energysystems to help save three percent on annual energy costs. The districthas been planning the solar installations for several years. But in2008, all four were almost scratched from the district’s agenda due tothe national credit crisis that made it difficult to finance any type of renewable energy project. That’s around when PES came to the table andmade the projects possible by handling the financing angle. In return,PES will get tax and investment credits.
Here’s JUHSD Associate Superintendent of Business Services StevenFuentes on how pivotal a role PES played in making these projects areality:
“In these difficult financial times for public educationin California, our district is very excited to begin working withPerpetual. [The company] will allow us to implement a program that willbring in much needed revenue while providing services to our district we would otherwise not have staff to accomplish.”
It’s no secret that California schools have installed more solarenergy systems than any other state’s schools in the country. Installing on-campus solar energy systems does two things: it gives schools theopportunity to teach younger Americans about solar energy, and it helpsthese school districts inch closer to independence from the utilitycompany’s electric grid.
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