Today, Mount Diablo Unified School District and SunPower Corp. are celebrating the completion of 40 SunPower solar power systems planned for district schools and facilities. When the total number of 51 systems is complete later this year, the systems are expected to reduce the district's electricity costs by more than $3 million per year, and save $220 million over the next 30 years.
With a cumulative capacity of 12.1 megawatts, the project is creating more than 140 jobs during construction and injecting almost $24 million into the regional economy through the use of local
subcontractors and suppliers.
"With this project, we will eliminate 92 percent of electrical cost from our general fund in the first year alone and generate additional financial resources from the California Solar Initiative. This will help preserve desperately needed financial resources for our schools and classrooms," says School Board Member Gary Eberhart. "Saving our schools' money while reducing emissions is the right thing to do for our students and the environment. We are very excited to team with SunPower to bring the largest K-12 solar project in the country to fruition."
SunPower is installing the system on rooftops and shade structures in parking lots and hard court areas. The systems use high efficiency SunPower solar panels, the most efficient panels on the market today, which are manufactured locally in Milpitas, California. All systems are expected to be complete and operational before the end of the year.
"The completion of the largest solar school project in the U.S., delivering electric bill savings of more than 90 percent at 51 schools, represents a major milestone in our industry. The Mount Diablo Unified School District selected SunPower to deliver the world's highest performing solar systems for its schools, in partnership with great local firms," said Howard Wenger, president, regions for SunPower. "The district has established a high standard for clean energy investments on school facilities. As a California company, with roots firmly in California education, it is extremely rewarding to deliver needed savings to our public schools."
According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mount Diablo Unified's solar power systems will avoid production of almost 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years, the equivalent of removing 70,450 cars from California's highways.
In addition to the financial and environmental benefits, the partnership between Mount Diablo Unified School District and SunPower is directly benefiting the district's high school students through resources SunPower is providing to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.
The school district's systems were financed through Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) secured under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, paid through a local, voter approved general obligation bond.