While the cost of running a college continues to climb, taking tuition rates with it, one California college has found a way to potentially slash its operating costs by $9 million.
Located in Saratoga, West Valley College recently dedicated its Solar Gateway Project, a 1.1-megawatt solar power system with the capacity to generate approximately one-third of the school’s electricity demand.
The solar system features a three-acre elevated solar canopy structure with nearly 2,640 SunPower E19 / 425 Solar Panels that generate reliable, emission-free solar power, reducing the campus’ energy costs and providing premium shading for parked vehicles. West Valley College is expected to save more than $9,000,000 in electricity costs over the 25-year-life of the system.
“We take great pride in the grand opening of this solar installation, celebrating our commitment to stewardship and sustainability. The Solar Gateway signifies the genuine focus we have on integrating green and sustainable practices throughout our West Valley campus,” stated Dr. Lori Gaskin, West Valley College President.
The money-saving renewable energy project was made possible by a three-way partnership between West Valley College, Gilbane Co., a full-service construction company, and SunPower Corp.The Solar Gateway project is just one of over 90 California school facilities at which SunPower will install solar power systems during the 2011/2012 school year.
Despite public relations drags like the Solyndra scandal and a down economy, the solar energy industry is churning out new green jobs at a steady clip, according to a new report commissioned by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit trade group. Widespread growth and innovation in the solar industry means costs continue to fall, making solar a reality for more American as well as educational institutions.
“Community colleges, universities and K-12 schools across California are wisely utilizing financing mechanisms available to the educational sector to deliver clean energy to their campuses, while reducing long-term operational costs,” said SunPower Managing Director Bill Kelly. “With the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar systems on the market today, West Valley College will recognize a great return on its investment in clean energy.”
Image Credit: Flickr – baxterclaus