Green | News

California District To Save $18 Million with Solar

The William S. Hart Union High School District in Santa Clarita Valley, CA is building a photovoltaic (PV) solar system designed to produce between $18 and $20 million in energy savings over 20 years.

PsomasFMG is providing the turnkey solar solution to help reduce energy consumption for nine of the district's junior and senior high schools. The Huntington Beach, CA company arranged for project financing free of upfront costs to the school district and is managing installation of a 7 megawatt system of 30,400 PV panels that are expected to deliver more than 80 percent of the district's energy needs. The ongoing construction schedule calls for the system to be completed and operational by the 2012-2013 school year, when the school district will begin to realize the cost savings of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with PsomasFMG, the partners said.

School District Superintendent Rob Challinor in a news release cited two immediate benefits of the project.

"First, as a result of generating 7 megawatts of energy, it is reducing the district's electrical consumption, which will allow those dollars to be put toward student programs," he said. "Additionally, students will have the benefit of first-hand experience on becoming better stewards of our environment."

The district's students will gain an education about solar power and its impact on the environment because they "can see how solar panels are transforming sunlight to power and electricity," said Gloria Mercado-Fortine, president of the district's governing board in a news release. Fortine said she expected that this educational process will be "an opportunity to develop an interest in architecture and the environment."

Most of the PV panels will be installed atop steel frame canopies that provide shaded parking for approximately 2,300 vehicles. Additional panels will be ground-mounted in some locations, as needed, the school district said.

The William S. Hart Union High School District serves approximately 23,000 students at "six comprehensive high schools, a continuation school, middle college high school, independent study school, six junior high schools, an adult school, and a Regional Occupational Program," according to information released by the school.

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About the Author

Jerry Bard is a freelance technology writer. He can be reached at [email protected].