Largest US solar power project in higher education

Chevron Energy Solutions and California's Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) have completed the first phase of what is said to be the largest solar power installation ever built for an institution of higher learning in the US. The project is the highlight of a multi-facility energy efficiency and solar programme that is expected to save CCCCD more than US $70 million over 25 years.

The state-of-the-art energy infrastructure upgrades – designed, engineered and constructed by Chevron Energy Solutions – make CCCCD's three college campuses and District Office more energy efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly as well as easier to manage. At the same time, the improvements are reducing the District's energy costs and its exposure to utility price volatility.

The programme includes three types of improvements, including a 3.2 MW solar power generation system comprising photovoltaic panels mounted on 34 parking canopies in six parking lots at Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College. The project's first phase, at 2.65 MW, is completed; the final phase will add 534 kW later this year. The other two aspects are efficiency improvements to lighting and HVAC systems, and high-voltage electrical system replacements.

The solar installation is expected to generate about 4 GWh of power each year, supplying up to half of CCCCD's peak electricity needs.

The $35.2 million project cost is being offset by about $8.5 million in rebates and other incentives administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company under the State of California's Solar Initiative, Self-Generation Incentive Program and Community College Partnership Program.

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