The Oak Grove School District in San Jose, Calif., is not just bringing renewable energy into the curriculum – they’re using it to power their classrooms. In partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions, the district celebrated the completion of a 1.8 megawatt solar photovoltaic system that will save more than $13 million in energy costs over the project’s lifetime.
The solar panel installation will generate up to 90 percent of energy needs for four schools and the district office, offsetting 1,377 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of planting over 220 football fields worth of pine forests.
With school budgets tight, the district says the the utility savings give it much needed relief. According to Chris Jew, acting Superintendent for Oak Grove School District: “At a time when school districts across the country are struggling under the weight of crippling budget deficits, Oak Grove has looked towards innovation as a way to maximize every taxpayer dollar. The savings being generated can now be reinvested into our classrooms where it belongs.”
The Oak Grove district partnered with Chevron Energy Solutions, which has done similar projects with many school districts around the country – helping design, develop, and construct the solar system as well as secure millions of dollars in utility incentives and rebates.
The district hopes to teach the benefits of the installation to their students, using a science curriculum program designed by Chevron Energy Solutions that integrates renewable and energy efficiency systems and exposes students to future career opportunities in the sector. “This project creates a real life, living laboratory for our students who already value and understand the importance of environmental sustainability,” said Assistant Superintendent Maria Wetzel. “This will be a uniquely enriching experience for our students.”