Cali School District Adds Lots Of Solar

Here’s a nice perk: The cool kids who drive to high school in Antelope Valley in the high desert of California — as well as teachers and staff — are getting covered parking. That’s the thing they’ll probably like the most. Meanwhile, the school district is expecting to reap $40 million in energy savings over the next 20 years from the solar panels that will top the new parking-lot canopies.

The $52-million, 9.6 megawatt photovoltaic project, going in at 10 Antelope Valley Union High School District campuses, is being called the largest school solar power installation ever in California. PsomasFMG is doing the work and will manage the system. Under the deal, the district didn’t have to put up any money for the project; instead, it just agreed to buy power from PsomasFMG at a fixed rate for a couple of decades.

image via PsomasFMG

The three-phase project is expected to be completed in early 2011. PsomasFMG said that during its first full year of energy independence, the district can expect an 18 percent reduction in electricity expenses as solar provides 80 percent of its electricity. The district’s remaining electricity will come from Southern California Edison at a reduced rate, PsomasFMG said.

The project “is a classic win-win, public-private partnership that will help us cut our energy costs and provide shade in our parking lot, with no upfront costs,” Jeffrey Foster, the district’s deputy superintendent, said in a statement.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.


  • Reply October 20, 2010


    So, the $52-million project is expected to give $40-million in savings over the next 20 years. It’s a good thing the school didn’t have to pay for this itself (and also explains why solar panels haven’t taken off, yet).

  • Reply December 7, 2010

    Pete Danko

    Fair comment, Foozinator. Of course, advocates of such projects would argue that savings in energy costs are just one benefit they deliver.

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