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Hartnell College Eyes $11 Million in Solar Savings

Hartnell College has embarked on a solar energy project expected to save the community college more than $11 million by improving energy efficiency and replacing 90 percent of its electricity use at its Alisal campus with solar power.

The project has been undertaken by the community college in partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions, which was selected to design and engineer the project and will install, operate, maintain, and guarantee the solar panel system's performance for 20 years.

The project will include more than half a megawatt of solar photovoltaic generating capacity and is expected to be completed and operational in July 2013, according to a release.

"This project will help Hartnell College advance a number of our goals, including achieving improved sustainability at all three campuses and setting an example we hope will resonate across the state," said College President Willard Clark Lewallen in a release. "With many of our students looking to pursue careers in the emerging green economy, this project also serves as an extraordinary learning opportunity to perform project-based research."

This research will begin during the construction of the solar canopies, which the school sees as an opportunity to provide students a real-world case study in sustainable design and construction. Once built, the installations will serve as living laboratories for the college's engineering program, where a partnership with University of California, Santa Cruz is helping integrate sustainable energy into science and math courses, according to a release.

"Not only will it generate high-paying jobs in our community, the project also will train our future workforce by exposing students to exciting and innovative learning opportunities," said Hartnell Board President Candi DePauw in a release. "Our primary focus remains on the sustainability of our local economy, which is strengthened by this project,"

Hartnell College was founded in 1920 and serves the higher education and workforce needs of California's Salinas Valley. The Hartnell Center for Sustainable Design and Construction was established in 2007 to educate students in the design and construction of homes, schools, parks, commercial buildings, and other infrastructure with sustainable practices and "green" materials.

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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