Barstow Community College to hold solar array groundbreaking ceremony
BARSTOW — Barstow Community College will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday for its an 885-kilowatt, ground-mount tracker solar photovoltaic array that will eventually save the college $5 million. The ceremony, which is open to the public, will be held inside the newly fenced area on campus, near the softball field.
The college announced Monday its partnership with Borrego Solar Systems Inc., which will install the solar array on an “unused” 5-acre lot next to the unpaved parking lot near the softball field. The $2.5 million solar array is expected to save an estimated $5.2 million over the course of the system’s life, college officials said.
Construction is expected to be completed by early spring.
Borrego Solar project developer Fnan Araia said at first glance the project fits a statewide “trend” among community colleges, but BCC is “actually unique” because the project will be paid in full through General Funds.
“The school is going to net an estimated $2.7 million in savings over 25 years because of this project, which will positively impact the community they serve,” Araia said. “The school should be applauded for their commitment to carving out funds for this important project and the foresight to turn to solar for the clear long-term economic benefits it delivers.”
The Board of Trustees approved on-site solar generation in 2014 after a presentation by Clyde S. Murley, a solar program managing consultant with the Community College League of California, according to previous reports.
The solar array will generate more than two million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, according to BCC spokesman Chris Clarke. That is approximately 90 percent of the college’s annual electricity demand, Clarke said.
According to Clarke, any surplus electricity will fed into the local grid and the college will be credited.
The project is expected to offset 1,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is the equivalent of taking 295 cars off the road or the amount of carbon sequestered by 1,150 acres of U.S. forests in year, according to Borrego Solar.
Clarke said the project furthers the college’s objective of reducing its carbon footprint and protects against an increase and volatility of utility energy rates.
“This is a clean energy project that will pay for itself, and provide a return on investment that is important to the future stability and sustainability of this college,” Superintendent/president Dr. Debbie DiThomas said. “We are thrilled that it is good for the environment, and will help us to be more self-sufficient.”
DiThomas said she is inviting local officials, members of the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce and community residents to join the college’s Board of Trustees and administrators, staff, faculty and students to participate in the “historic event.”