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Plugged In

More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives

Bay Area school district offsets budget cuts with solar energy

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Mount Diablo Unified School District, which sits just east of San Francisco and Oakland, partnered with SunPower Corp to install the world’s largest solar installation for a school district. The District now has 12.1 MW (magawatts) of solar capacity at its facilities and parking lots.

Perhaps more interesting is how the economics of solar are factoring in to the District’s budget. Max Pringle writes:

Mt. Diablo faces a bleak future of millions of dollars of state funding cuts and slashed school programs. But, three years ago, District officials came up with the idea of offsetting projected budget cuts with savings from renewable energy. “We’re going to be generating about $6 million in these obviously difficult financial times in the State of California,” said Mount Diablo Schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence. “That’s huge and it’s equivalent to about 100 teaching positions.”

The PV installations are expected to save the District $220 million over 30 years. The project was paid for in part by federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, along with general obligation bonds. The project also presents an opportunity for students to learn about the science and engineering of energy systems.

 

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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