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San Diego Community Colleges Go Solar Without Capital Investment

The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) is going solar without having to make a capital investment. The district recently approved a 20-year agreement with Borrego Solar, a national solar power contractor based in San Diego suburb El Cajon, CA, to construct and maintain a photovoltaic system that will annually provide about 2.4 megawatts of green energy at six locations in the district, the equivalent of powering 650 homes per year. A comparably sized installation was built by Borrego Solar at the University of California, San Diego and finished in 2009.

The system will be financed through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) under which the District will access and use solar-generated energy, without the upfront capital costs or operational expenses. Under the agreement, Borrego Solar would build, operate, and maintain the solar system and sell the generated solar energy back to the district at rates estimated by the company at 18 percent below those of San Diego Gas & Electric, a savings of $110,000 annually. The solar energy generated by the district system would be enough to meet slightly more than a quarter of current peak electrical demand.

The photovoltaic program calls for the solar panels to be installed on building rooftops and parking structures and atop new solar panel shade structures on parking lots throughout the district.

"This is a win-win for the San Diego Community College District, and the community in general," said David Umstot, vice chancellor of facilities. "By taking advantage of modern solar technology and current renewable energy incentives, we are able to promote our environmental commitment by producing clean electricity on site, reducing our carbon footprint, and working to find solutions for meeting the growing energy demands within the San Diego community."

According to a statement from the partners, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be reduced by about 56,000 tons.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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