Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation and a retail energy supplier, and Amphitheater Public Schools (the District) announced the start of construction of a 9.4-megawatt (DC) solar generation project in Tucson, Ariz. The solar power system, located across 24 school sites and support facilities, is expected to generate more than 60 percent of the District’s electricity needs in the first year of operation.
“We are excited about the significant cost-savings and meaningful educational opportunities this solar power system will bring,” said James Burns, executive manager of operational support, Amphitheater Public Schools. “In addition, it will provide much needed shade in play areas and allow the District to demonstrate the viability of clean energy resources to our students, faculty and community.”
The project requires no upfront capital from the District. Constellation will own and operate the solar power system. The District will purchase the electricity generated by the solar panels from Constellation under a 25-year solar services agreement. The project will result in an expected savings of $11 million to $23 million in energy costs for the District over the term of the agreement, according to the District.
The project will offer real-time data monitoring capabilities that will be integrated into the school curriculum to help students learn how solar electricity works and about the benefits of renewable energy. Students will be able to observe how solar energy is powering their schools, and be introduced to potential careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.
“Constellation is pleased to help Amphitheater Public Schools reduce their energy costs and educate their students about the benefits of renewable energy,” said Brendon Quinlivan, director of origination, distributed energy, for Constellation. “Structuring solar projects as solar service agreements provides energy solutions that may require no upfront capital from customers and provide long-term fixed power costs that are less than projected market rates.”
The solar power system is expected to be completed in mid-2016 and will be comprised of approximately 29,000 photovoltaic panels located on carports, shade canopies and rooftops across 24 locations. The system is expected to generate approximately 16.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year. Generating the same amount of electricity using nonrenewable sources would result in the release of approximately 16,830 tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent emissions from 3,543 passenger vehicles annually, according to U.S. EPA data for the region.
Natural Power and Energy, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based commercial solar developer serving companies, schools and government institutions, led the pre-construction development efforts for the solar power system.
“By drastically reducing energy costs over the term of the project the Amphitheater School District can divert those funds to focus on what it does best, which is providing education,” said Rob Dallal, CEO of Natural Power and Energy.