Solar Gateway Could Save College $9 Million On Energy

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.”

Related Reading:

Eight DOD Mistakes That Are Worse Than Solyndra

Poll: Most Americans Worry About U.S. Oil Consumption

Solar Lights For A Million Filipino Homes

Image Credit: Flickr – baxterclaus


Howard Evans
Howard Evans5 years ago

Tina G, there are two problems you’ve overlooked.

The first is the grid. Solar power efficient and consistent enough to be effective has to come from the southwest. Tidal power has to come from the coasts, Wind power has to come from where it blows, mostly the Great Plains. Replacing relatively local electric plants with national generation centers requires $4 billion or more upgrade to the national electrical grid.

Second is the pollution of propeller wind turbines. Their noise pollution is profound at 90 dB a hundred meters from the base of the tower, and they kills birds by the hundreds. They’re also prone to severe damage in very high winds and generate power only when faced into the wind

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines – cages with twisted blades along the outside – generate less than 40dB at the base of the turbine, kill no birds, survive high winds and generate power no matter which way the wind blows. 2nd generation VAWTS are nearly as efficient as propeller turbines. Much smaller clusters of these could replace local generating plants without major upgrades to the grid.

Eight years of local NOAA hourly wind speed records prove they’d work where I live in Syracuse, where propellers, solar panels and tidal power won’t.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz6 years ago

~I'd like to see more solar powered systems everywhere, especially where I live!~

Brian F.
Brian F6 years ago

Tina G. Great comments. We should put solar power on every home in America, and the government should finance it. Our electricity rates are rising, but the cost of solar power is going down. This would clean up our air, and allow us to shut down our dirty coal plants, and close our dangerous nuclear energy plants.

Faith Billingham
Faith Billingham6 years ago

thank you for this article :)

Pogle S.
Pogle S6 years ago

This is a great example that leads the way for others to follow!

Robert Dean
Robert Dean6 years ago

Cause of the greedy oil corporations keeping it off the market and preventing the electric car from being mass produced. that is why people should stop supporting them

Edo R.
Edo R6 years ago

Thanks for this article!

Frank S.
Past Member 6 years ago

Why are they all dragging their feet. This should have been done decades ago. This technology is collecting dust on the shelves

Harsha Vardhana R
Harsha Vardhana6 years ago

We need to recommit to increase the proportion of alternate energy sources