Hartnell College and Chevron Energy Solutions announced they have broken ground on a solar energy project that is expected to save the community college more than $6 million. The project will include over half a megawatt of solar PV generating capacity, and is expected to be completed and operational in July 2013. Combining the generation of renewable electricity from solar and improvements in energy efficiency, the project is expected to reduce Hartnell's electricity use at its Alisal Campus by more than 90 percent.
"This project will help Hartnell College advance a number of our goals, including achieving improved sustainability at all three campuses and setting an example we hope will resonate across the state," said College President Willard Clark Lewallen. "With many of our students looking to pursue careers in the emerging green economy, this project also serves as an extraordinary learning opportunity to perform project-based research."
Over the next several months, leaders at Hartnell College plan to integrate the solar energy project into existing education and career training programs. Construction of solar canopies will provide students a real-world case study in sustainable design and construction. Once built, they will serve as living laboratories for the college's engineering program, where a partnership with UC Santa Cruz is helping integrate sustainable energy into science and math courses.
"Hartnell College has taken a huge leap toward environmental sustainability, but our primary focus remains on the sustainability of our local economy, which is strengthened by this project," added Board President Candi DePauw. "Not only will it generate high-paying jobs in our community, the project also will train our future workforce by exposing students to exciting and innovative learning opportunities."
Chevron Energy Solutions was selected by Hartnell College to design and engineer the project, and will install, operate, maintain and guarantee the solar panel system's performance for 20 years. The company worked closely with college leaders to design an energy plan that supports the educational mission of the college.
Hartnell College has a long history of work with sustainability. In 2007, for example, it established the Hartnell Center for Sustainable Design and Construction to educate its students in the design and building of homes, schools, parks, commercial buildings and other infrastructure of the future with sustainable practices and 'green' materials. Hartnell has been a model of bringing together resources from the private sector, government and the skilled construction trades to accomplish its educational mission.
"As the leader in solar and energy efficiency projects for educational institutions, we are pleased to work with Hartnell College to improve learning and career opportunities for students," said Chevron Energy Solutions President Jim Davis. "Through this project, Hartnell College is building financially and environmentally sustainable programs that will deliver ongoing value to the Monterey County community."