Green Schools

California District Installs Solar Farms at Elementary Schools




Pioneer Union's solar farms. (Aerial view, top, shows Frontier Elementary School's installation.)

California's Pioneer Union Elementary School District (PUESD) has gone solar. The district has installed solar farms at three schools--two elementary and one middle--in an effort to save on operational and energy costs.

The solar farms were unveiled last week at Frontier Elementary School, Pioneer Elementary School, and Pioneer Middle School. They're expected to generate 2.3 million kilowatt hours of energy per year--as much as 77 percent of the electricity needed for the three schools, according to information released by Enfinity, one of the project's developers. Enfinity's partner on the project, Conergy, handled construction of the three ground-based photovoltaic systems, which comprise nearly 11,000 individual solar panels.

"We are dealing with a shrinking tax base and increasing energy costs that are working together to create a 'perfect storm' of challenges for public school districts across the country," said Diane Cox, Pioneer Union Elementary School District superintendent, in a statement released Friday. "We plan to use the cost savings to offset the budget deficit to our district. The dollars saved will go directly back into the classrooms by supporting our existing instructional programs."

Over the course of five years, the solar installations are expected to save a combined total of $150,000, with no upfront costs incurred by the district itself. It will also offset 25,800 tons of CO₂ emissions over the life of the project, according to Enfinity, and provide hands-on science learning activities for students.

Further information about Pioneer's solar program can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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