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California District's Solar Energy Project Targets $40 Million in Savings

Antelope Valley Union High School District of Lancaster, CA has broken ground on a new turnkey solar energy project that provider PsomasFMG estimated will save the district more than $40 million in utility costs over the next 20 years. The 9.6 megawatt photovoltaic installation is the largest to date in any school system in California.

Designed and engineered to provide more 80 percent of the district's electrical power needs and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 250,000 tons over 20 years, the $52 million project includes the construction of steel-frame canopies to support approximately 41,000 solar panels at the 10 school campuses participating in the project, with the added benefit of providing covered parking for 4,000 vehicles in this desert community some 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

AVUHSD Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Foster noted that the project is a classic win-win scenario because, owing to a public-private investment partnership arranged by the company, the district required no upfront capital outlay to build the solar energy system. "PsomasFMG has been a willing partner, clearly explaining the project, delivering their product, and helping develop a green curriculum that will benefit our students," said Foster. "We look forward to flipping the switch and bringing our district into a greener future."

Apart from the environmental benefits, the project will reap financial reward for the district, with an estimated utility cost savings of 18 percent the first year alone. PsomasFMG will provide long-term asset management to ensure that both the district and investors, realize optimal gains from the project.

Using a single construction crew for optimal economies of scale, the company is installing the solar panels in three phases, the last of which it expects to commission in early 2011.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.