SOLEDAD, Calif., May 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In a community celebration on Thursday, May 3rd, Soledad Unified School District (Soledad USD) commemorated the official start of their District-wide solar program with a ceremonial "flip the switch" event for students, staff, neighboring school districts, community partners, and elected officials. Through a partnership with a Salinas-based team from ENGIE Services U.S. (ENGIE), Soledad USD's new 1.7MW solar project symbolizes the District's commitment to the theme of the event itself, "Earth Day, Every Day." As a result of the development and installation of a solar program across all six District sites, Soledad USD's long-term sustainability efforts will save over $10 million in energy costs.
Empowered by Solar Power Soledad USD serves nearly 5,000 K-12 students in one of the most productive agricultural regions in California. Starting in early 2016, Soledad USD partnered with ENGIE to create a plan to reduce District energy costs and positively impact the environment.
Leveraging two, zero-percent loans from the California Energy Commission (CEC), District leaders worked with ENGIE to ultimately secure $4.8 million in CEC state funding to start solar work at Soledad High School in late 2016, with work at additional school sites occurring through spring 2018. Remaining program costs will be covered by savings resulting from the generation of clean solar power.
Soledad USD Board President Josie Perez-Aguilera emphasized the power of strong partnership over multiple phases of work at the District. "Starting in 2016, our strong, ongoing partnership with ENGIE has helped us to bring best in class sustainability technology innovations that advance the District's education, community engagement, and financial goals – while also directly touching the long-term success of students across grade levels."
Earth Day, Every Day In addition to the visual transformation at District school sites with solar canopy shade structures, a long-term, positive impact is happening in the learning environment as well.
Superintendent Tim Vanoli shared, "The reason our theme for this event is 'Earth Day, Every Day' is because we have truly integrated our belief in the power of renewable energy into all school sites. Not only do we celebrate sustainable actions, we can really live them on a daily basis now that we are producing clean energy that will power our District and offset greenhouse gases – in addition to saving us $10 million in energy costs over the life of this project."
The District has already achieved significant, early wins from the solar project, including creating approximately 30 local jobs associated with the construction of the project and starting the development of energy education opportunities across schools.
Soledad USD is looking forward to the following, expected outcomes over the life of the solar program:
$10MM in energy savings over 25 years
1.78 million kWh generated annually – or, enough clean energy to power 143 homes for a year
~68% of the District's electricity needs will be met through solar production
1,326 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduced annually – the positive environmental equivalent to planting 34,000 trees a year
Ongoing STEM engagement activities, including hands-on experiences, career day presentations from energy engineers, and an online dashboard that connects real-world data to classroom learning
About ENGIE Services U.S.: ENGIE Services U.S. is a national energy company that works with education, government, commercial, industrial, and other organizations. We deliver integrated Energy Effective™ programs that drive sustainable results. As part of the #1 energy services provider in the world, we provide an extensive set of energy and sustainability management services to thousands of customers throughout the United States. Over the past 40 years, ENGIE Services U.S. has provided more than $2.7 billion in savings for our customers. For more information, please visit https://engieservices.us, or contact Lani Wild, Manager of Communications, at 415-735-9080.