Solar Energy Gives A College Excess Power

A tiny community college in a rural part of California is laying claim today to being the first “grid positive” college in the United States – that is to say, being the first college to generate more energy than it needs for usual day to day functions. Butte College says this is courtesy of solar power arrays around its campus, which we first learned about last year.

Butte College, which is located 75 miles from Sacramento and resting on a 928-acre wildlife refuge, sports a total of 25,000 solar panels that generate 6.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year – enough to power, it says, quite a few average-sized homes. The college believes it will save between $50 million and $75 million over 15 years, even after accounting for project costs and interest, by eliminating its electricity bill, getting paid for excess electricity production (via feeding energy back into the local electrical grid), and avoiding future electricity rate increases.

image via Butte College

The college touts itself as something of a leader in the green space because of initiatives like this as well as workforce development focused on green jobs, LEED certified buildings and sustainable land use management.

Butte College, while perhaps being the first truly grid positive college campus in the country, certainly isn’t the first grid positive building we’ve ever seen. Examples of previous green buildings in this manner include a home in Denmark, an entire German housing development and some planned homes in Boston, Mass.

Want to know more about how clean energy is doing great things for the world? Check it out here.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply June 30, 2011


    Most importantly, it will be grid positive for the Sacramento grid when air conditioning loads are Max and out of state electricity costs are Max.

  • Reply July 19, 2011

    Jessica Janes

    Hope we see more and more of this trend in higher education. Way to create energy independence that will lead through all sorts of weather and economic conditions.

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