The Mount Diablo Unified School District in Contra Costa County, Calif., is installing a solar-energy system that it says will be the largest K-12 solar project in the nation. Officials say the solar panels, which are being installed at 51 campuses in the 34,000-student district, will save Mount Diablo more than $220 million over the next 30 years.
"In the first five years of the solar project, we will not only save $3 million annually on our (utility) bills, but we will also receive approximately $3 million annually in rebates from the California Solar Initiative," the district says in a news release.
Installation of the panels is scheduled to be completed in November.
The district says that without the $6 million that comes from the energy savings and rebates, it would have to carry out budget cuts that would have been equivalent to eliminating 80 teaching jobs.
The panels are projected to save 12.1 megawatts of energy per year and will eliminate 92 percent of the Mount Diablo district's electricity costs the first year, according to SunPower Corp., the company installing the system.
When the installation is finished, the district will have 28,568 photovoltaic panels atop building roofs, parking canopies and playground shade structures. That amounts to 664,683 square feet of solar coverage, according to SunPower.
Over the 30-year life of the system, the solar energy will offsets 396,094 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That is equivalent to removing 70,450 cars from the road.
The funding for the solar installation comes from a $348 million bond issue approved by voters in 2010 as well as $56 million in federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds.
Check out this YouTube video from SunPower.