Butte College unveiled three completed solar projects at its main campus, 3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville on Wednesday, February 18.
The solar projects include ground-mounted and roof-mounted arrays equipped with a total of 2,418 solar panels. The three solar projects are located near the college's tennis courts, waste water treatment plant, along with a roof mounted solar array atop the Facilities building. Together, the solar projects will power 10 campus buildings, saving the college $40,000 annually in energy costs.
"This marks our college's fourth campus solar array project since 2005 and work is underway to complete a fifth solar project in May. Our college has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2015 and this project helps us move closer to our goal. We would like to thank our partners for working closely with us to make it a reality including PG&E, Bank of America and Chico Electric," said Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg, Butte College president.
Norm Nielsen, owner of Chico Electric, and a Butte College alumnus, was the solar installation vendor on the project and said it took three months to complete.
"It's exciting to be part of a renewable energy project for the college," said Nielsen. "We're glad to help create a special training site to be used for students and faculty."
The ground-mounted solar array near the waste water treatment plant is located on a 1/2 acre and will power the treatment facility used to recycle waste for wildlife habitat. Chico Electric donated and designed an installation area at the site to be used as a training lab for students and faculty to learn how to put solar panels together and take them apart.
The college has developed several partnerships to bring this latest campus sustainability program to fruition. The project cost is $3.42 million and is a partnership effort working closely with PG&E's California Solar Initiative, and Bank of America as the lender, according to Mike Miller, Butte College Director of Facilities.
"I commend Butte College for completing this next step toward its goal of carbon neutrality," said Linda Crothers, president of Banc of America Public Capital Corp. "We are pleased to provide financing for this and other public and private sector projects so our clients can use solar to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. These efforts are part of Bank of America's 10-year, $20 billion environmental initiative to address climate change."
Once completed, this Phase 2 solar project combined with the Phase I solar conversion, a large array of solar panels serving two meters, and completed during the 2004-2005 academic year, will generate about 44 percent of the campus' electricity from solar power. By March, the college will complete the final portion of this solar array project near the Physical Sciences building and the Child Development Center. The solar projects will produce 674,000 kWh each year.
The college will also realize a substantial financial savings since over the next 20 years it will pay a fixed energy-use fee and not be subjected to energy price increases. The projects will save the district $7.5 million after paying for the solar project.