Solar Parking Canopies Exceed Savings Projections at San Dieguito Union High School District

solar parking canopies
Part of San Dieguito Union High School District's 2MW solar system, which has generated $1.6 million in energy savings to date over the past five years.

installed at two North County San Diego schools, La Costa Canyon High School and Canyon Crest Academy, have saved San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD), more than $1.6 million in energy costs to date. The solar system currently generates about 70% of the electricity needs at both schools.

OpTerra Energy Services worked with SDUHSD on program development, financing, design, and construction of the 2MW covered parking structures. As part of the project development process, OpTerra also guarantees projected energy savings of more than $10.5 million over 15 years.  The system, which is owned by the District, will continue to produce energy for at least 25 years, which is the term of the panel warranty, and will provide SDUHSD an additional savings of more than $12 million.  In addition to the money the District now saves on electricity costs, the sale of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) generated by the system provides SDUHSD with a new source of revenue.

With a successfully performing solar installation for over five years, San Dieguito UHSD stands out as a leader in renewable energy across San Diego County schools.  OpTerra designed and built the solar parking canopies in 2010 and continues to operate, maintain, measure and guarantee the system’s performance. Project costs were offset by a $4.7 million rebate from the California Solar Initiative and other available funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Current Superintendent Rick Schmitt shared, “Using a dynamic set of funding streams to support our project, the solar canopies have saved the district millions so far. And that money is put right back into the classroom. On top of that, students are able to witness firsthand how energy efficiency and sustainability affects each and every one of them.”

District leaders were excited to work with a partner who had a proven track record of installing other large solar power projects in the education market, in addition to developing hundreds of projects that improve energy efficiency and provide renewable power for other public and private-sector entities.

Former Superintendent Ken Noah oversaw the development of the project during his tenure from 2008-2013, stating that, “San Dieguito’s mission is to provide a world class education for all students through quality programs that engage students and inspire achievement. The savings from this solar project with OpTerra helps us meet these critical goals.”

The positive impact of SDUHSD’s solar project will continue to guide new development across the District, including the new additions at Earl Warren Middle School which will include solar generation as part of its construction.

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