West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ:SPWR) will begin construction of SunPower® Helix™ solar systems at 34 school sites in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The solar installations will include carports, shade structures and rooftop systems and will be constructed over the next year, with the first phase being operational in January.
The SunPower Helix systems will generate approximately 6.3 megawatts (MW) of clean power and are estimated to provide WCCUSD with more than $53 million in electricity savings over the next 25 years. On completion, SunPower estimates that 76 percent of the participating schools’ electricity will be provided through the SunPower Helix carport systems. WCCUSD will buy power at a competitive rate under a power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunPower and will own the renewable energy credits associated with the systems.
“Installing solar aligns with our Green School Initiative, which emphasizes energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption. We’ll be able to significantly reduce our energy costs and redirect those dollars toward other District priorities that benefit students,” WCCUSD Superintendent Matt Duffy said. “Having solar at school sites also creates additional opportunities to focus on green education, environmental responsibility and clean energy, exposing our students to even more STEM-related curriculum and concepts.”
“With many employees living in the district, we’re thrilled that WCCUSD has chosen SunPower for their renewable energy needs. The district will gain significant value for many years to come through the combination of a power purchase agreement and the SunPower Helix systems,” said Bill Kelly, SunPower vice president. “Districts are challenged to make the most of limited resources, so reducing electricity costs through innovative solutions, while at the same time letting students experience the great potential of solar power, is a win-win.”
SunPower will install solar panels using SunPower’s high efficiency interdigitated back contact (IBC) cell technology, the most efficient on the market today. SunPower’s E-Series and X-Series DC solar panels are the world’s first and only solar panels to achieve Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver designation for the sustainable practices and materials used in their manufacturing.
A leader in delivering innovative energy solutions to California school districts, SunPower has installed more than 135 megawatts in 30 districts. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), this is enough to power 33,750 average California homes.
SunPower goes the extra mile from industry-leading solar solutions to life-changing educational experiences. Committed to help inspire and educate the next generation of energy leaders, SunPower delivers a hands-on educational opportunity, the SunPower Horizons™ program, design to spark students’ curiosity about science and technology, while giving them the tools they need for success in any academic pursuit. Specifically, SunPower hosted more than 35 students and 12 teachers from the West Contra Costa Unified School District in the popular Summer Solar Energy Academy, awarded a grant in 2014 for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum enhancements, and currently mentors and provides paid internships to students who are active on Richmond High School’s award-winning robotics team.