University of Southern California
Galen Center

University of Southern California installs solar panels atop sports arena

March 17, 2020
The solar installation at the Galen Center is part of a green overhaul at the arena.

The University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles is installing 1,500 solar modules atop Galen Center, the school's sports arena.

The system is scheduled to be fully operational this summer, the university says in a news release. The system will supply as much as 15% of the center’s electricity and produce 915,000 kilowatt-hours annually — enough to power 88 houses for a year.

USC says the project is by far its biggest foray into solar power.

The Galen Center’s solar installation is part of a green overhaul at the USC Athletics venue. Old arena lights have been replaced by LED fixtures. Fewer lamps are required, and wattage will drop by 40%.

In all, more than 3,000 LED light bulbs are going into the Galen Center. The lighting has earned USC Athletics a $150,000 rebate from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“Universities have a special opportunity to really be in a leadership role,” said Zelinda Welch, USC’s energy manager. “I think it’s exciting to be at USC at this time and drive that change.”

The university also is planning to install a pony chiller at the Galen Center. That is a small motor that can be used when the arena’s two giant chillers aren’t needed for cooling.

Welch estimates the combined energy savings could be $10 million over 25 years.

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