College of the Sequoias and Borrego Solar Systems Inc., today announce the breaking ground of 893 kilowatts (kW) of solar capacity at the district's campuses in Tulare, Calif. and Visalia, Calif. The $2.8 million installation is expected to deliver an annual savings of almost $250,000 during the first five years in operation with the receipt of solar incentive payments, and an average of $266,000 per year for the next 20 years. This results in an estimated $6.4 million in savings over the 25-year life of the system. Borrego Solar is a leading designer, installer and financier of grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
The Visalia campus' 285 kW elevated solar-shade system will be installed in a portion of the parking lot on the south side of the campus, providing shade and protection for student and staff vehicles. The Tulare campus' 632 kW installation will be a ground-mount tracker system on 3.3 acres of the College's property, located at East Bardsley Avenue and Olive Street. Both projects are expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.
"The District's decision to pursue solar was driven by an ongoing effort to minimize energy costs for decades to come and reduce our impact on the environment," said Byron Woods, College of Sequoias Dean of Facilities. "We are committed to keeping the focus of our spending on the students and their education. These solar installations contribute to those efforts by allowing us to repurpose funds that have historically been spent to cover increasing energy costs."
Each school will utilize all of the solar energy generated by the on-site installations with the solar installation's generation meeting almost 100 percent of the Tulare campus instructional buildings' electricity demand, and meeting almost 10 percent of the Visalia campus' electricity demand. The sites will be net-metered, meaning that any solar energy not consumed by the campus will be fed into the local electricity grid.
"The benefits of solar are obvious for community colleges, given the tight budgets they face," said Kyle Kearney, Borrego Solar's VP of Project Development for the Western Region. "When costs mount, they get transferred onto students and community members."