In a community effort led by a local solar installer and supported by several solar manufacturers and local businesses, the Teen Center in Morro Bay, California, now has a rooftop solar system that serves both an educational and an economic purpose.
Brian French, owner of Estero Bay Solar Solutions (EBSS) in Morro Bay, first proposed installing a modest solar array on the roof of the Teen Center to the City of Morro Bay, primarily as an educational tool for students and local citizens who visited the Center. The Teen Center, known as “Rockies” by the locals, provides after-school activities for students.
“I originally offered to donate a small solar array at Rockies.” says French. “We wanted to give students the opportunity to learn about solar photovoltaics – producing clean electricity from sunlight – which is something I’m passionate about.”
After considering the EBSS proposal, the City expressed interest in expanding the project, if financially feasible within its limited budget, so the system would be big enough to supply the building’s entire annual electric usage. The City agreed to contribute to the project, and EBSS secured a combination of donations and discounts from three high-quality solar equipment manufacturers, which greatly reduced the costs to be shared with the City. With the contributions in place, the city council approved a modest expenditure to expand the project.
Donations and discounts were received from SolarWorld, ProSolar, Quick Mount PV and Miner’s Ace Hardware. The system consists of 23 SolarWorld 260-watt panels (for a total system size of 5.98 kilowatts) installed on ProSolar rails and attached to the building with Quick Mount PV roof mounts. Electrical components were purchased at the Miner’s Ace Hardware store in Morro Bay, with the cost reduced by a donation from Miner’s.
“I was grateful to partner with Quick Mount PV on this project as I have been using their mounts exclusively on my clients’ roofs for many years. Quick Mount PV’s quality and design enable a straightforward installation and give me the peace of knowing I have installed a long-lasting product that will be secure and waterproof for the full life of the solar array.”
Mark Ammerman, Senior Director of Channel Sales at Quick Mount PV, added, “Nothing provides a better solar education opportunity than seeing a real PV system in action. We are honored to have been selected by EBSS to contribute to this most worthy effort.”
The educational potential of the project appealed to French and the manufacturers that participated. French, a father of 10-year-old twins, said, “This project not only demonstrates the potential for solar energy in our community, it also provides an opportunity to contribute to a program I highly regard and one that our own kids will be benefiting from when they attend Morro Bay High School.”
After the system was installed and activated, Recreation and Parks Superintendent Mike Wilcox observed, “During the first month of operation, we actually generated more electricity from the solar PV system than the building needed.” The system is expected to save approximately $45,000 over the 25-year warranty period on the solar components.