Solar energy will help power 21 additional Long Beach Unified School District campuses by October, bringing the number of schools fueled by renewable energy to 25, or nearly 30 percent of district schools.
The latest solar installations stem from a power purchase agreement with Standard Solar, which began stationing canopy shade structures with solar roof panels at LBUSD elementary and middle schools last year. Standard Solar owns and operates the panels, and installation is carried out by EMCOR Services Mesa Energy Systems. To date, solar canopies have been placed at 16 of the 21 schools in the agreement.
With no upfront capital costs to the district, Standard Solar's 4.9-megawatt system reduces the district's utility costs and locks in a fixed rate for future energy expenditures. The agreement is projected to offset the carbon dioxide equivalent of six million pounds of coal burned in the first year alone and save the district millions of dollars over the next 25 years.
"Sustainability is a key aspect of our facilities planning," said LBUSD Business Services Administrator Alan Reising. "The Standard Solar canopies are expected to meet 70 to 80 percent of each campus’ energy needs, which translates into significant environmental and economic benefits."
Standard Solar canopies are primarily located on blacktop surfaces, providing students shade during outdoor activities and cutting down heat radiated from the asphalt. The shelters also reduce the heat island effect, which describes the occurrence of higher temperatures in urbanized versus rural areas.
"Standard Solar applauds the Long Beach Unified School District for taking this important step to reduce its impact on the environment," said Shaun Laughlin, Standard Solar's head of US Strategic Development, Partnerships, Project Finance and Acquisitions.
Solar panels were first installed at LBUSD schools in 2014 with the construction of a rooftop solar grid at McBride High School and the installation of an 805-kilowatt system at Cabrillo. Solar panels at Millikan and Lakewood followed in 2015.