Chico Schools Go Solar

Aug 4, 2011 6:37 PM

Sunny days mean big savings for the Chico Unified School District. As they work to complete their year long solar project at Chico and Pleasant Valley High School. CUSD Facilities Planner, Mike Weissenborn says, "We expect to have the construction phase of the project completed by the end of August and be generating power in the first week of September."

Each site will generate 80 percent of the power demand at each campus, and PG&E will fill in the rest. Which is a large percentage, due to the amount of panels installed at each school. CUSD Construction Manager Bob Michael says, "I didn't count them individually, but it looks like around 7 or 8 hundred."

And it may seem hard to believe, but the school district didn't pay for any one of them. "We're using a power purchase agreement.. We have a private company, solar city, who is financing, constructing, they're going to operate and maintain the solar systems," Weissenborn says.

In return, the district will be purchasing every kilowatt of power that is produced by these systems. And when this project is complete, it will save the school district 3.8 million dollars over the next 20 years.

By the end of next summer, there will be a total of seven solar sites within the district. Including Marsh Junior High, Chapman School, and the CUSD Corporation Yard. Overall, the project not only saves the district lots of money, its very beneficial to the environment as well. Weissenborn says, "We're reducing the heat islands, it's a learning experience, it's part of the districts commitment to sustainability and we're very glad that we've been able to put this in place."

The crews on site at Chico and Pleasant Valley High School will continue working on the parking lot structures through Saturday. Next week it will be sectioned off, so parking will be available for students and staff at both high schools.


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