Southwestern College estimates that the solar energy project—which is the largest single site of energy generation for an educational institution in San Diego Gas & Electric's service area—will help offset the college's energy costs by approximately $600,000 annually.
"It makes sense to use the clean, renewable resource of the sun to power our college sustainably," said Dr. Melinda Nish, superintendent/president of Southwestern College. "We think this is an investment of Proposition R dollars that will continue to pay dividends for the college community for many years to come."
The project cost $13 million and was funded by Proposition R, the general obligation bond passed by voters in 2008.
SunPower solar panels, which generate up to 41% more power and have a lower degradation rate than conventional solar panels, are installed on solar shade structures in six of the college's parking lots. Installing solar systems in parking areas takes advantage of underutilized space and provides needed shade.
"Southwestern College can rely on its high quality SunPower solar systems to deliver guaranteed performance for the next 25 years or more," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. "It is extremely rewarding to help our educational institutions thrive using power from the sun."
According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, solar power systems installed at Southwestern College will avoid production of more than 2,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of removing almost 13,000 cars from California's roads over the next 25 years.