The South San Francisco Unified School District and Chevron Energy Solutions recently took a major step to furthering California's industry-leading solar power installations, activating the largest K-12 solar energy program in San Mateo County.
The California solar installation is expected to bring 100 local green jobs to San Mateo and is expected to reduce the district's utility costs by $20 million over the next 25 years. Solar panel arrays will be installed at 15 elementary, middle and high schools in the school district, producing an expected 1.68 megawatts of electricity and offsetting a large portion of the district's energy needs.
Measure J, a local bond measure that was approved by voters in November 2010, funded the project. The measure raised approximately $162 million to improve school infrastructure and enhance the student learning environment. The district is expecting to cut its annual total electrical usage in half and reduce the carbon footprint of the school district.
"As superintendent, I am proud of the partnership we have entered with Chevron Energy Solutions," said District Superintendent Alejandro Hogan. "Their commitment to the success of school districts throughout California is something that will benefit the state and its residents for generations to come."
The savings from the solar panel installation is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 1,500 metric tons, which is the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 330 acres of pine trees. The learning environment in classrooms is also expected to improve through the integration of advanced, high-performing energy efficient technologies, which is a significant goal from Measure J.
Chevron Energy Solutions designed and engineered the project. The energy company also guaranteed the solar system's performance for 20 years, and will install, operate and maintain it. Energy efficiency improvements were also made in the district's lighting, irrigation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
"As the leader in solar and energy efficiency projects for educational institutions, we are pleased to work with the South San Francisco Unified School District to improve the learning environment for students," said Jim Davis, Chevron Energy Solutions president. "Through this project, the district is investing in sustainable programs that deliver ongoing value to the community."
The improvements to the schools' energy systems are expected to provide better lighting quality and aesthetics, lower maintenance costs and improved indoor climate. Chevron is also supplying the school's teachers with curriculum materials and hands-on experiments to help meet the state's standards and create an environmentally aware and energy conscious learning space.
"Harnessing the power of the sun helps make our schools more environmentally sustainable, cuts their energy bills, and creates thousands of teachable moments for our students," said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. "That's a win-win-win proposition, for our schools and for California."
Westborough Middle School in South San Francisco recently had an event to celebrate the activation of the new system, with students, district representatives, government and business officials on hand. Among the business officials who were expected to show up were Torlakson, Jerry Hill, a state assemblymember, South San Francisco Councilmember Kevin Mullin and Judith Bush, president of the South San Francisco Unified Board.
Two Manhattan Beach, California, schools were also recently recognized for the solar installation enthusiasm, earning nominations for the new federal Green Ribbon Schools Award. The Environmental Charter High School and Grand View Elementary School were nominated for the award, which recognizes schools for their green energy production. Winners will be announced the week of Earth Day in April.