Oakland Unified School District to Reduce Electricity Costs by Nearly Half with Solar Systems at 16 Schools

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The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is putting 3.6MW of solar systems on 16 schools. The systems include rooftop solar arrays and solar shade structures in school parking lots, which take advantage of underutilized space and provide needed shade. Once the systems are completed in 2014, the district estimates it will reduce electricity costs at those facilities by 46%.

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in Oakland, California will put 3.6MW of solar systems on 16 of its schools. SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) is designing and building the solar systems, slated to be completed in 2014. The district estimates it will reduce electricity costs at those facilities by 46%. The systems include rooftop solar arrays and solar shade structures in school parking lots, which take advantage of underutilized space and provide needed shade.

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OUSD solar power systems will avoid production of approximately 80,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years, the equivalent of removing 15,210 cars from California’s roads.

“Our contract with SunPower will enable Oakland Unified School District to maximize our use of clean renewable energy, dramatically reduce utility expenses, and use the savings to enhance academic programs,” said OUSD Superintendent Dr. Gary Yee. “We will also have the opportunity to take advantage of linked learning initiatives such as the successful SunPower Solar Academy, which integrates real world work experience with rigorous academic programs to inspire students while preparing them for college and careers.”

Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions, commented: “SunPower works with school districts across California to reduce operating costs and repurpose the savings to the classroom. It is extremely rewarding to partner with our public schools to deliver needed savings, while inspiring teachers and students with the great power and potential of the sun.”

Solar is booming at schools and universities. The large flat roof of a school or university building is an ideal place for a rooftop solar installation, and the money saved by going solar allows the schools and universities to redirect their funds toward academic priorities and needs.

SunPower has delivered more than 61MW of on-site solar power systems for 23 school districts across the state. The SunPower Solar Academy is a summer project- and work-based learning program that is delivered over the course of one week in each participating district, immersing district students and teachers in a solar-focused curriculum that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Approximately 250 students from ten California school districts participated during the 2013 summer session.