More Solar Panels for San Jose Schools

San Jose extended its commitment to renewable energy this week, with a ground breaking ceremony for a 3.7 MW solar project to be built at six school sites in the East Side Union High School District. The ceremony took place at Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, and was attended by district, government and business officials, as well as several student representatives.

When the six sites go online later this year, they are expected to reduce electric utility costs by more than $1.5 million in the first year, $7.6 million over five years, and provide total savings of $36 million over the life of the project.  Savings come from reduced electricity costs, and also from generous state incentives and additional revenues from the sale of renewable energy credits.  As for environmental benefits, the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 3,100 metric tons per year.

“Our schools will all benefit from these savings, especially in these tough economic times when they’re needed most,” said East Side Union High School District Interim Superintendent Dan Moser, in a press release issued Thursday. “Also, this project reduces our carbon footprint and allows us to incorporate solar into our teaching curriculum so our teachers and students can learn about renewable energy technologies firsthand.”

Through a series of workshops, the District’s teachers will learn how they can use hands-on solar kits and activity guides in the classroom to teach students about solar energy.

Chevron Energy Solutions (CES) will design, build, operate and maintain the solar system, which is expected to provide employment for 100 local union contractors. In 2008, Chevron and the San Jose Unified School District collaborated on another project: a 5.5 MW solar installation across 14 District sites, which is among the “largest solar power and energy-efficient facilities programs in K–12 education in the United States,” according to CES.

These projects demonstrate how many California school districts are starting to use solar projects to save money in an era of shrinking budgets. In an email to Triple Pundit, Tom Kelly from The Helios Project, a non-profit group focused on reducing fossil fuel use in California school districts, said he believes the time is right for solar powered schools:

“Statewide the availability of Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) – part of the stimulus package – and Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) is fueling significant interest in photovoltaics (PV). This type of financing is so attractive that when combining it with reduced prices for PV panels, more competitive installation costs, and fairly robust rebates, public school are finding that solar can not only pay for itself, it can also be a revenue generator – a very important consideration in these difficult financial times.”

Jim Witkin is a writer and researcher based in Silicon Valley focused on business, technology and the environment. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Guardian newspapers on topics that include: sustainable business practices, clean tech, the environment and next generation transportation technologies. He holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. Contact him at

7 responses

  1. Pingback: The New 3 R’s | Solar and Wind Power in Nebraska
  2. Pingback: Solar Power Rundown for Friday, March 12 | Blog
  3. Hope that this solar project at San Hose High School will set a good example for other High Schools to embark on similar project and extend the knowledge and experience on solar energy to students so that they will encourage more home base solar energy installation, to save the world carbon emission that is getting worse at a dangerous level now.

  4. I hope that this solar project in San Tube High School is a good example for other high schools to take up similar projects in the attack and extend knowledge and experience in the field of solar energy for students in order to produce more home-system based sunscreen, to save emissions of carbon dioxide in the world, worse than a dangerous level for the purchase.

Leave a Reply