The City of Anaheim Public Utilities in California created a new solar revenue stream for five school districts through a design-build agreement with Duke Energy’s REC Solar. The projects at nine K-12 public schools include solar carports and shade structures.
Under the agreement, the city utility covered 100% of the costs to build the solar sites on Anaheim school property, which should generate revenue streams for each district over the next 20 years, REC Solar says.
Local land is at a premium and public space for ground-mounted solar installations is hard to find, according to the city’s project manager. And, although Anaheim Public Utilities provides rebates for solar adoption, the technology was still out of reach for many schools, Mike Lyster, chief communications officer for the City of Anaheim, told Energy Manager Today.
“The Solar for Schools program allows us to install, own, and operate solar shade structures on campuses while paying schools for the use of the space — and creating new shade for parking lots or other outdoor areas,” Lyster said.
Depending on the size of the system, schools could see revenue of $5,000 to $50,000, he added. The structures can also be used as part of science education. Plus, working with schools helps Anaheim Public Utilities meet its renewable energy goal for 2030.
Solar carports were installed at Anaheim Elementary School District’s Franklin Elementary and Betsy Ross Elementary schools, Magnolia School District’s Lord Baden Powell and Dr. Jonas E. Salk Elementary schools, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District’s Esperanza High School, and Savanna School District’s Hansen Elementary.
An aging shade structure over the lunch area at Centralia Elementary School was replaced with a new solar version. Danbrook Elementary gained solar generation weather protection over a popular outdoor play area, and Savanna School District’s Cerritos Elementary has a new solar structure to protect their school bus pickup and drop-off zone.
“We can make many energy efficiency upgrades, but nothing stands out quite like driving by a school and seeing the solar panel carports,” said Paul Juarez, energy manager for more than 30 schools in Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. “Our school community especially loves the opportunity to park their car under the shaded structure on a hot day.”
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