Solar Panels Coming to 12 Campbell Schools this Summer

Published in The Mercury News

Solar Panels Coming to 12 Campbell Schools this Summer
The Campbell Union School District is looking to the sun to bring down its long-term energy costs.

During the summer months, solar panels will be installed at 11 of the district’s elementary and middle school sites as well as the corporation yard where school buses are kept, according to district deputy superintendent Jim Crawford.

The $5.7 million project is aimed at reducing energy costs in the long run.

“We’ve been looking at a project like this for a while,” Crawford said, adding that a loan from the California Energy Commission for energy efficiency and solar installation projects is helping to complete the installations.

The school district was awarded a $7.5 million zero-interest loan from the energy commission in November. The district was one of three in the state to receive a loan.

Funds from the loan can only be used for projects that help meet the district’s energy conservation goals, such as installing solar panels. The district expects the energy-cost savings from the panels to be approximately $480,000 annually, and estimates that the project loan will be paid back in roughly 11 to 18 years.

“Seventy percent of our power needs will be met,” Crawford said, adding the district expects to save more than $15 million in electricity costs over a 25-year period.

Crawford added that an LED bulb conversion program is expected to cut the district’s energy costs by another 10 percent. The program is being funded through another grant.

Panels will be installed primarily on the rooftops of campus buildings. Four school sites will have additional panels placed on shade structures located on school grounds, Crawford said.

Solar panels installed at Capri Elementary will also serve the neighboring Village School.

Borrego Solar Systems will design and install the panels, which are estimated to produce 2.4 million kilowatt hours of energy in the first year of use, according to a statement released by the company.

When solar production exceeds the amount of energy the school sites are using, additional energy output will go to the local electricity grid, allowing the school district to receive a credit to its bill from PG&E.

Crawford said all panel installations should be completed by December.

The Campbell Union School District enrolls more than 7,000 students from Campbell, San Jose and Los Gatos in preschool through eighth grade.

For more information on the loan and how a school district can apply, visit bit.ly/EnergyEfficiencyFinancing.