SolarCity and Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) are together installing a 6-MW solar and energy storage project across 19 schools and the district’s administrative office. The project, which includes energy storage systems at five sites, required no upfront investment and is expected to save the district more than $520,000 within the first year of operation alone, and $35 million over 25 years by providing affordable power at a discount to utility rates.
“Like many schools districts across the county, Temecula Valley has faced increasing budget cuts and rising operational expenses,” said Janet Dixon, Director of Facilities Development at Temecula Valley Unified School District. “With SolarCity, we found a creative way to cut our electricity bills. This money will free up funds for the district to invest in student programs and curriculum.”
The project includes 18 solar carports and two ground-mount solar arrays. The carports incorporate SolarCity’s ZS Beam technology, which is safer, faster and more cost efficient to install than previously possible. Carports also provide shade for parking and even the district’s students during break and lunch hours. Five of the project’s sites will also be equipped with DemandLogic, SolarCity’s smart energy storage system for businesses. Together, the DemandLogic systems will have 2,600 kilowatt hours of energy storage capacity that can later be intelligently dispatched during times of highest demand. TVUSD will reduce energy costs by using stored electricity to lower peak demand, further contributing to the district’s overall cost savings.
TVUSD chose a SolarCity Power Purchase Agreement, which allows the district to pay for only the power the systems produce at a fixed rate that is less than what it is currently offered by the local utility. The district retained Sage Renewable Energy Consulting, Inc. an independent energy consulting firm, to help assess the feasibility of the projects and determine the most cost-effective designs for each site to optimize energy savings. The firm also helped to solicit and organize proposals for the projects and select the best candidate to meet TVUSD’s specifications and goals.
Beyond savings, the projects provide a terrific opportunity for students to learn firsthand about solar energy and storage. With SolarCity’s PowerGuide, a solar production monitoring system, students can also see how much energy the schools’ photovoltaic panels are producing on an hourly, daily, monthly and yearly basis.
Temecula Valley Schools are an example of taxpayer-funded California institutions which benefit from net metering, a cornerstone policy which allows them to control energy costs and protect school budgets by contributing the excess energy their systems produce back to the grid for neighbors to consume.
With all its elements combined, the system is expected to prevent more than 96,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere over its lifetime. That’s equivalent to taking more than 20,000 cars off the road for a year. In addition, because solar power production requires virtually no water–unlike energy generated by thermoelectric power plants–the system is expected to avoid the use of more than 4 billion gallons of water, which drought-stricken California so sorely needs.