School Solar Deal Was Just Too Good To Refuse

What if someone came to you and said they would give you a new home theater system, and even install it for free, if you would agree to pay for programming at the going retail rate? You would say yes, right?

That’s similar to what private solar energy development company PsomasFMG did with the Hart School District in the nook of Los Angeles County known as the Santa Clarita Valley. PsomasFMG offered free solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, in the form of solar panels, to be installed free on nine of the school district’s junior and senior high schools. And all  the district had to do was to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA), committing itself to buy all the electricity generated.

Wm. S Hart SD solar

image via Wm. S. Hart Union School District

Earlier this month, the district flipped the switch one the first phase of its green energy initiative, which demonstrates how easily distributed generation can be made effective with renewable energy resources like sun, wind, and geothermal heat. The complete system, 7 megawatts (MW) in all, will be fully deployed by the 2012-2013 school year, potentially saving the school district $18-20 million over the 20-year contract, locks in stable electricity costs, provides shade for school parking lots, and provides an immediate, hands-on environment for students to learn about solar PV energy. Oh, and did we mention it also provides more than 80 percent of the electricity the school district uses?

Comprising 30,400 solar PV panels when completed, the arrays will be installed in parking lots and as ground-based installations at Canyon High School, Golden Valley High School, La Mesa Junior High School, Rancho Pico Junior High School, Rio Norte Junior High School, Saugus High School, Sierra Vista Junior High School, Valencia High School and West Ranch High School.

PsomasFMG is developing up to 20 MW of green energy for other school districts. In 2010, the company installed a 9.6 megawatt solar PV project at Antelope Valley Union High School District – a system that earned the title of the largest school solar power system in California at the time.