ForeFront Power has been selected by three California school districts to install 3.7 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic capacity across 13 locations. Over 5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity is expected to be generated each year by the solar canopy installations. Bryan Taylor, the company’s Public Sector Sales Director, answered some questions for CleanTechnica about the projects.
ForeFront Power’s solution is known as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). ForeFront Power will design, permit, finance, install, and maintain the solar energy projects for a 20-year term. In return, each district simply pays for the electricity generated by the system at a predictable price below their existing utility rate. This model allows us to leverage all incentives, especially the Federal Investment Tax Credit, in order to provide the lowest rate possible to the schools. If they were to purchase the systems outright, their status as a public agency would prevent them from reaping any savings from the Federal Investment Tax Credit.
2. Will you be responsible for solar power system maintenance and repairs if needed?
Yes, ForeFront Power will be responsible for solar power system maintenance during the 20-year term. Because the schools pay per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, we have a direct incentive to ensure that everything is functioning properly and efficiently.
3. What are the 13 sites where the solar power will be installed?
CA – Shasta Union High School District – Foothill High School
CA – South Monterey County Joint Union High School District – Greenfield High School
CA – South Monterey County Joint Union High School District – King City HS
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Cleveland ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Grunsky ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Hazelton ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – John C Fremont ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Kennedy ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – King ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – McKinley ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Pittman Charter
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Roosevelt ES
CA – Stockton Unified School District – Van Buren ES
4. How many people will be employed during the installations of the solar systems?
According to data from The Solar Foundation and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the US employed about 23 workers per megawatt of installed capacity in 2017. Most employment impact from these projects will occur during system installation. Upon completion, a maintenance team will visit the sites several times per year for preventative maintenance and service.
5. What is SPURR and what is the innovative purchasing framework?
ForeFront Power won a massive state-wide solar and storage RFP conducted by SPURR, a joint powers authority of more than 250 school districts and Fresno USD, the 4th largest school district in the state. Districts can “piggy-back” off of this competitive process to secure excellent pricing and terms while saving the time and resources normally required to run their own RFP. This RFP is and the associated documents are all publicly available and transparent for school Districts and other public agencies like community colleges, municipalities, counties, and universities.
6. How much can the school districts save by choosing solar power?
The electricity offset from these projects will result in over $10 million in savings for the districts over the 20-year contract period.
7. Are you currently also working with energy storage systems?
ForeFront Power does engage with schools to develop energy storage systems, such as for Fresno Unified School District, although these three school districts will only have on-site solar energy as part of this partnership.
8. What will the schools use the solar electricity for?
The solar electricity will be interconnected at each school “behind-the-meter” so it will serve all loads as if the electricity were coming from the utility. Through net metering, each school will still be served by the local utility and the overall utility bill impact will be reduced by the offset from on-site solar power.
9. Is there any spill over effect when solar power is installed at schools where children and parents see the new solar and it generates conversations and interest in home solar too?
There is certainly a spill over effect when solar power is installed at schools, especially when the projects are visible to students, facility, and the community in the parking lots. The most direct connection will be for students as they will have the opportunity to learn more about solar energy, system production, and site impacts through the Schools Power curriculum. These lesson plans and teacher training are included at no-cost for the schools as part of ForeFront Power’s partnership with Schools Power.
10. Have you installed solar power at schools previously, and if so how much?
Since 2015, the SPURR Renewable Energy Aggregated Procurement (REAP) program and the ForeFront Power team have helped over 20 school districts and municipalities procure more than 50 MW of clean solar power across more than 100 sites. In aggregate, the ForeFront team has developed over 400 MW across more than 300 projects for education customers during the last decade.
11. How long does it take to install a solar power system at a school from start to finish?
Depending on the size of each individual system, the installation could take anywhere from one to three months. For schools, we work with facility management to stage construction and perform activities during time when school is not in session.
Image Credit: Forefront Power
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