Cesar Chavez Adds Solar Power for Reduced Energy Costs, Improved STEM Opportunities

The Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy has installed an interactive learning solar power system at its Washington D.C. Parkside Campus.

"Completed at the end of last year, the 170-kilowatt rooftop system will provide nearly 12 percent of the school's annual electricity use while providing hands-on learning for students, staff and visitors," according to a news release.

Developed and installed by Standard Solar, the installation 212,300 kilowatt-hours of power yearly, offsetting 331,765 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

To bring the science of solar power to the classroom, the project includes an interactive Web-based monitoring program that will be accessible from the school's Tiger Woods Learning Center. The program will provide hands-on tools designed to show how solar electricity is generated, how to forecast production and how weather conditions affect the system.

The project was funded through a 15-year guaranteed savings agreement with Nextility, ensuring that the school will pay rates below what the utility charges. At the end of the agreement, Chavez Schools will own the system and reap all the energy savings it provides.

"We are proud to be one of the first to bring green technology to Ward 7," said Chavez Schools CEO Joan Massey, in a prepared statement. "At Chavez we want our students to become agents of change for all issues, including those related to conserving the environment, energy and resources. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to partner with Nextility and Standard Solar to make this a reality."

"This project is a concrete example of how local and national public policies promoting clean energy and best energy management practices enable solar to be affordable — what better way to demonstrate the value of the school's public policy curriculum," said Tony Clifford, CEO at Standard Solar, in a prepared statement. "And, since the school operates on 100 percent electricity, this solar project is a powerful economic value, providing significant savings from day one."

"The Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy provide a high quality public school option for students residing in the District of Columbia," according to information released by the schools. "Chavez Schools prepare students for success in competitive colleges and empower scholars to use public policy to create a more just, free and equal world. With campus locations in Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights and Parkside communities, Chavez Schools currently serves over 1,400 students from grades 6-12."

More information about the Chavez Schools is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].