There’s no better place to learn about the benefits of solar energy than watching a school produce solar power. SunPower and Colton Joint Unified School District (CJUSD) in Colton, CA, announced a partnership to install SunPower Helix carport systems at 28 schools estimated to cover 73 percent of the district’s energy needs. The district-wide installation of the Helix carport systems, along with a total of 1.1 megawatts of energy storage across seven of the schools, will provide 6.1 megawatts worth of clean energy and is expected to save the school district $35 million over the next 25 years.
"This is a truly great project that will allow us to protect the long-term financial health of the district and redirect tens of millions of dollars in future revenue toward other district priorities," said CJUSD Superintendent Jerry Almendarez. The installation of the Helix modular systems will also save the district in construction and development cost due to the system’s pre-engineered “plug and play” design.
"Colton Joint Unified School District will gain significant value for many years to come through the powerful combination of a power purchase agreement and SunPower systems, storage and software," said SunPower President Howard Wenger.
Under the power-purchase agreement, CJUSD will buy the solar energy produced at competitive rates from SunPower while retaining ownership of the renewable energy credits awarded for the generation from the solar carport systems. Construction will progress through 2017 in three phases and will not interrupt school operations.
The latest agreement between SunPower and the district builds on the district’s commitment to reduce how much energy it consumes and the overall environmental impact of operating 28 schools. It also serves as an educational tool to teach current and future students as well as their parents about the importance and potential of solar power and other environmentally friendly energy sources.
SunPower has already installed solar power systems at 23 school districts across California, which are producing 90 megawatts of energy and reducing their use of grid-supplied electricity. "School districts work hard to maximize every dollar, so helping reduce electricity costs through innovative solutions, while inspiring students with the great potential of solar power, is extremely rewarding,” added Wenger.
It’s not just school districts in California going solar, however. For instance, Warren County Public Schools in Kentucky built the first solar-powered, net-zero energy school at, when it built Richardsville Elementary School in 2013. That school already has produced enough solar to earn the district $37,227.31 from the Tennessee Valley Authority for the surplus solar power it provided the power grid.
Indeed, districts across the US are turning to solar and they’re getting help. Recently, the National Solar School Consortium launched a with the support of 16 organizations in a nationwide effort to help schools go solar and even achieve net-zero status.Tweet