Temecula Valley Schools Embrace Green Energy

TEMECULA, Calif. — A 6-megawatt solar array and energy storage project will soon become a symbol of environmental sustainable for California’s Temecula Valley Unified School District. The project will serve 19 schools throughout the 213-square-mile southern California district as well as the district’s administrative offices, and include energy storage systems at five separate sites.

The project required no upfront investment by the district and is expected to save upwards of $520,000 within the first year of operation alone, with $35 million in savings over the next 25 years by providing affordable power at a discount to utility rates, according to a statement by SolarCity, the San Mateo, Calif.-headquartered renewable electricity firm that completed the project.

“Like many school districts across the county, Temecula Valley has faced increasing budget cuts and rising operational expenses,” said Janet Dixon, director of facilities development at Temecula Valley Unified School District, in a statement. “With SolarCity, we found a creative way to cut our electricity bills. This money will free up funds for the district to invest in student programs and curriculum.”

Altogether, the project includes 18 solar carports and two ground-mount solar arrays. The carports will incorporate SolarCity’s ZS Beam technology, while five of the sites will also be equipped with DemandLogic, the company’s smart energy storage system. The systems will provide approximately 2,600-kilowatt hours of energy storage capacity that can later be intelligently dispatched during times of highest demand. In turn, the school district will reduce energy costs by using stored electricity to lower peak demand, further contributing to its overall cost savings.

With all elements combined, the system is expected to prevent more than 96,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere over its lifetime; the equivalent to taking more than 20,000 cars off the road for a year. In addition, because solar power production requires virtually no water, the system is expected to avoid the use of more than 4 billion gallons of water.

A Power Purchase Agreement with SolarCity will allow the district to only pay for the power the systems produce at a fixed rate that is less than what is currently offered by the local utility company, according to a statement by SolarCity. The district also retained independent energy consulting firm Sage Renewable Energy Consulting Inc. of Inverness, Calif., to help assess project feasibility and determine cost-effective, energy-optimizing designs for each site. The consultants helped to solicit and organize proposals for the projects and select the best candidate to meet the district’s specifications and goals, according to a statement by SolarCity.

Beyond simply providing energy cost savings, the project also promises to provide an opportunity for students to learn about solar energy and storage. The project will offer students access to a solar production monitoring system, allowing them to see exactly how much energy the schools’ photovoltaic panels are producing on an hourly, daily, monthly and yearly basis, according to a statement by SolarCity.

For more information on the project visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUp5aL9JrHA

This article was originally published on School Construction News.