About an hour outside of Los Angeles near the Pacific coastline, the Oxnard School District consists of 20 schools, grades K-8, serving more than 16,000 students. While school administrators realized that installing solar through a power purchase agreement (PPA) could reduce energy bills, they were concerned about community aesthetics and construction activities disrupting school activities. So rather than install solar on all 20 campuses at once, the District decided to give solar a “test” at four schools. The test has proven to be very successful with the schools scoring 70–90% of their electrical power from the sun.
Oxnard Schools Make the Grade with Solar
The District’s first test for solar was a financial one: Could SolarCity save the District on its energy bills with no upfront costs? The correct answer is yes. Thanks to abundant year-round sunshine at the four chosen sites, SolarCity projected they could save Oxnard School District’s general fund $1.4 million over the 15-year PPA contract. SolarCity installed the systems at no cost to the school and will take care of all maintenance and repairs.
The second test was aesthetics. Where would the solar system be installed, and how would it look? SolarCity met with District personnel at each of the four schools to discuss and plan the location for the solar projects. SolarCity representatives explained how the solar structures would provide shade for faculty cars, and—in some cases—for students and staff as a canopy for outdoor student-assembly activities. SolarCity involved the District in all aspects of the decision-making process and the project moved into permitting. Next, the final exam was installation.
SolarCity Works Around Operations During the School Year
Construction began at the beginning of the school year due to the timing of the design and permitting. SolarCity project managers were careful not to interrupt class and crews worked after regular school hours and on weekends to get the project completed on time.
Trenching and wiring from the solar structures to the schools’ electric systems were all completed safely and without affecting the daily operations and activities on campus. SolarCity completed all four schools in about a month, ahead of its promised completion date.
Having passed this initial solar test, the District is now considering installing solar systems on its remaining campuses. SolarCity is also working with the District in creating educational materials for students.