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Sacramento High School Converts to Solar Energy
Friday, February 17th 2012 3:47 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
An East Sacramento Catholic high school recently received green energy updates that will make the school more efficient and teach students the importance of using renewable energy.

St. Francis High School recently added another California solar installation by completing a 253-kilowatt solar energy system in seven buildings, following campaigning, budgeting and planning for months to get the project up and running, Valley Community Newspapers reported.

The solar installation is expected to generate 31 percent of the school's electricity and save the campus $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years, the source stated. Environment California Research & Policy Center recently released a report called "California's Solar Cities 2012: Leaders in the Race Toward a Clean Energy Future," which revealed the 72-year-old all-female college preparatory school is a leader in renewable energy in the state. Schools around the area are now expected to follow suit and save themselves, and the state, money.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson praised efforts to make the school more energy efficient in the State of the City address at the city's Convention Center, stating that the school's commitment to making the campus more energy efficient is an example of how solar energy investments can be a great business decision for a property owner, create green jobs and improve the environment in the process.

“I am proud of today’s recognition by Environment California,” Johnson said. “Sacramento and Greenwise Joint Venture have made a concerted effort to leverage our competitive advantages and make clean energy a priority. We see the results in the statewide data and in projects throughout our region. We are also teaching our students that we care about their future.”

Demonstrating how the project has educational value, Katy Ely, a senior at St. Francis High School, was involved in the project and served on the planning and finance committee, VCN reported. She joined the mayor at media events and played an integral role in making sure the project was completed.

“As I grew to understand the charts and graphs, installation techniques, and advantages of the prospective bidders, a specific role developed for me to represent the students, to be their voice,” Ely said. “While St. Francis solar panels on campus will cut energy costs and reduce carbon emissions, other key benefits from the students’ perspective is to model the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church and demonstrate the importance of living in cooperation with nature.”

St. Francis High School's photovoltaic solar installation is sponsored by the U.S. Treasury through a grant, SMUD rebates and reductions in electricity utility bills. While producing a significant percentage of the school's current electricity requirements, the project is also expected to reduce carbon emissions.

According to Environment California, the state is No. 1 in the country in solar power, leading all others to a more energy efficient future. Sacramento has grown solar power at the greatest rate compared to any other major city, tripling the total amount of solar power installed in the past two years alone.

An Environment California Research & Policy Center report recently showed that Sacramento ranks seventh in the state in the total amount of solar electricity generated.

“Solar power is booming in Sacramento,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, director of clean energy programs at the center. “Despite the slow economy, Sacramento has found a way to grow one of the most promising clean energy solutions, bringing clean air and jobs to the city.”

The report released by Environment California Research & Policy Center also stated that local residents and business have installed 16 megawatts of solar capacity in Sacramento, which is enough to power 12,000 homes. The city's rooftop solar capacity was about 5.5 megawatts in 2009.

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