Gavilan develops solar and storage project

Investment expected to save $12.5M in energy costs over 30 years

ENERGY SAVINGS SunPower works to install solar panels across two of Gavilan College's largest parking lots at its Gilroy campus.

Gavilan College has gone solar. The community college has selected SunPower to deploy a fully integrated solar and storage project at its Gilroy campus.

A SunPower Helix Carport system, totaling about 1.4 megawatts, will be installed across two of the college’s largest parking lots, enhanced by a 250-kilowatt (500 kilowatt-hour) energy storage solution from Stem, Inc. to help deliver significant demand charge savings.

System construction is currently underway, with completion expected before the end of 2017.

“Investing in cleaner energy while providing covered parking for our students with this solar carport system made complete sense for us,” said Frederick Harris, vice president of administrative services at Gavilan College.

To help finance the $5.5 million project, Gavilan Joint Community College District secured U.S. Department of Treasury clean renewable energy bonds with a 1.05 percent interest rate after a federal tax credit, which allow public sector entities to fund renewable energy projects. The district will own the solar power system along with the associated renewable energy credits.

“Together with SunPower, we have designed a unique system that will offset approximately 75 percent of our electricity use on the Gilroy campus,” said Harris, also noting that the project “includes a storage system allowing us to avoid expensive utility demand charges, feature enhanced parking lot lighting, and incorporate up to 102 electric car charging stations in compliance with the California Green Building Code.”

The investment is expected to bring the school upwards of $250,000 to $280,000 a year in energy and related savings and an estimated $12.5 million in energy costs over 30 years, according to Gavilan’s announcement.

SunPower offers a 25-year Demand Assurance Guarantee that covers product performance, energy production, operation and maintenance, according to Harris.

“With more than 32 years of experience in solar, colleges across the country rely on SunPower to deliver leading renewable energy solutions that best fit their needs,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president. “We look forward to helping Gavilan College reduce energy costs over the long term, delivering more value over the system’s useful life.”

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