A New Site to Share Successes in Project Management, Construction, Utility Reduction and Green Projects

20 Jul

Our first featured project is one completed by the Deer Valley Unified School District to convert some of their roof space over to solar power panels to save energy costs.  Here are some excerpts from an earlier article:  Arizona Pushes for Affordable Solar Energy in Schools


Arizona Pushes for Affordable Solar Energy in Schools

By Tanya Roscorla
In December, Deer Valley High School in Phoenix installed the largest rooftop solar system on a K-12 school in the nation. A 1-megawatt system including 4,464 photovoltaic panels tops these buildings, and so far, it’s saved the school nearly $34,000. | Photo by Core Construction.
As the Solar Schools Act makes its way through Congress, school districts in the Valley of the Sun are installing solar panels to save money and take advantage of natural resources.

Cut costs

And in the desert, electricity isn’t cheap. During the hottest parts of the day, customers of  Arizona Public Service need a huge amount of electricity, so the company charges more in the middle of the day.

School goes right through the hot part of the day, so as solar technology and government incentives to implement it changed, Deer Valley decided to install photovoltaic panels on six buildings. In December, the district worked with SOLON Corp. to install a 1-megawatt system of 4,464 photovoltaic panels at Deer Valley High School. SOLON says this project is the largest rooftop solar system on a K-12 school in the nation.

In the first quarter of 2010, it produced 307,785 kilowatt-hours of electricity, said Jim Migliorino, the district’s executive director of fiscal services. Multiplied by the average utility rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, that equals a savings of $33,856.

Overall, the system is expected to save $400,000 in maintenance and operations expenses, which leaves more money in that budget line item to put into classroom instruction, she said. The district purchased the first system through tax-exempt bonds and is developing five additional systems for other schools, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2011.

For the other five systems, the school district will sign a power purchase agreement, often called a solar service agreement in Arizona. According to the agreement, the company owns the energy systems and claims the investment tax credit on them while the district buys power from the company.

 Set goals

At Deer Valley, the district buses have used biofuels for years, and it’s committed to clean energy.

Deer Valley and Paradise Valley Unified School District No. 69 have both established renewable energy as a priority, which is important when schools consider moving forward with solar projects, said Dan Alcombright, vice president and general manager of SOLON in North America.

“At a school board level,” he said, “they have written in renewable energy as an overarching goal for the school district.”

Gather support

With about 5 million square feet of roof space on more than 52 buildings, Paradise Valley has plenty of areas to install solar panels, said Michael L. Green, director of maintenance and operations. And by September, three high schools will have solar panels on them. An additional two high schools will have solar panels next year through a power purchase agreement with SOLON.

The district is also working with Green Choice Solar to mount photovoltaic panels on a support services building, the administration office and the community resource center, as well as on parking lot structures that cover the buses.

Paradise Valley sits between Deer Valley and Scottsdale school districts, and because some of the same solar providers are working at each of them, the facilities directors share what they learn.

“We’ve gathered together and kind of used each other as support hubs, going back and forth,” Green said, “and tried to educate ourselves as quickly as we could.”

But Green did one thing that they didn’t do: he hired consulting firm Green Ideas to guide him through the process and help him figure out what technology would work the best for Paradise Valley. And he wanted to make sure he chose solar panels that would last as long as possible, so he talked to his consultant about what technology was on the horizon.

“I’m kind of looking toward the future,” Green said, “and I’m also real interested in the new technology and how and where it’s going to lead us.”

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At this blog we plan to do a follow-up on this project and see where we are with savings after an additional two years.

One Response to “A New Site to Share Successes in Project Management, Construction, Utility Reduction and Green Projects”

  1. Mr WordPress July 20, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

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