This post first appeared on San Diego Loves Green
by Roy Hales
Borrego Solar systems has given the benefit of more than three decades of expertise to America’s school system.
“We’ve worked with K-12 schools for years throughout the U.S. to deploy multiple megawatts of clean energy, saving them money and reducing their environmental impact,” said Mike Hall , CEO of Borrego Solar.
The company’s first project was an all solar home in Borrego Springs during the early 1980’s. Everything changed after California developed a grid tied solar market in 1999. Borrego Solar has completed more than 1,000 installations since then. The San Diego Water Authority’s 1730 kw system generates enough renewable energy to meet 60% of the power needs for the Kearny Mesa and Escondido facilities and more than 25% of the power needs for the treatment plant. Borrego’s 417 kw installation at Qualcomm’s San Diego headquarters was unique because of the combination of new construction and retrofits to existing carports and flat roofs.
They also installed 7,290 solar modules on roofs, above parking lots, and in other locations of UC San Diego. The first phase of this project cost approximately $9 million and was financed through a power purchase agreement that allowed the university to access solar generated electricity without incurring the capital or long-term operational costs.
This power purchase agreement became a standard feature in August 2009, when Borrego Solar launched an integrated solar financing program to help schools, companies, and government organizations finance solar projects efficiently. Since the beginning of 2012, Borrego Solar has installed a total of 5.8 megawatts (MW) of solar energy for schools across the U.S. and has 18.8 MW of school solar projects currently in production. Some of their customers include Bonsall Unified School District and Santa Clara Unified School District in California, and Plymouth Public Schools in Massachusetts.
“At Plymouth, we’ve taken a number of initiatives to drive cleaner energy at our schools, and partnering with Borrego Solar was one of the most important decisions we made to achieve our goals,” said Dr. Gary Maestas , Ed.D., superintendent of schools at Plymouth Public Schools. “It’s important for schools to have access to all the right information, so on top of partnering with trustworthy contractors and experts, this guide is a great idea for schools looking to learn about what resources are available.”
A few years ago, Borrego drew up a curriculum to teach solar photovoltaic principles in schools. This starts in the first grade, where students are already taught to ask meaningful questions, and there are more advanced studies for the higher grades and Universities.
Asked about the reception at home, a spokesperson said, “Borrego has seen interest from schools in San Diego it’s worked with and has provided the curriculum to them, however, because each school has it’s own process for approving and implementing lesson plans, we aren’t able to confirm to what extent it has been adopted. “
On May 29, Borrego announced its solar expertise contribution to “The Green Schools Investment Guide,” a free resource guide available to K-12 schools that demonstrates how schools can implement healthy and resource-efficient building improvements. This was a project led by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Architecture for Humanity.
The 70-page, action-oriented resource guide demonstrates how investments in America’s school buildings can improve student and staff well-being and academic performance, conserve scarce resources and foster thriving and sustainable communities. Borrego Solar provided its expertise in a variety of categories around solar PV installations, including available government rebates and incentives, design considerations and financing options.
“We are proud of the wide breadth of clean technology and energy efficiency areas covered in our resource guide,” said Kate Stohr , managing director at Architecture for Humanity. “Solar energy has proven to be an impactful tool for K-12 school districts looking to implement energy efficiency and building improvements at their facilities. Borrego Solar ‘s help was extremely valuable, as it was able to contribute ideas and offer expertise because of its direct experience working with schools.”
He was referring to the expertise provided by three Borrego executives – Philip Hall and David Potovsky from the Oakland office and Kyle Kearney from Boston.
“We’re honored to be part of this resource guide, which is an important tool for schools as they seek to improve their facilities and infrastructure in a cost-effective and responsible manner,” said CEO Mike Hall. “With this guide, more schools will be better equipped to evaluate and execute on clean energy and energy efficiency projects.”
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