March 13, 2013—SolarCity today announces a 1.5-megawatt (MW) solar power project that will bring renewable energy to eight Barstow Unified School District (BUSD) schools and facilities. The solar installations are expected to save the district $112,000 in their first year and roughly $5.3 million over the next 20 years, which will directly benefit classroom instruction constrained by years of budget cuts.
Roughly three-fourths of BUSD's students qualify for free or low-cost meals, and district budget reserves have been under strain due to a difficult economy and a high local unemployment rate. But the solar power systems will offset an average of 70% percent of each of the eight facilities' electricity needs, bringing immediate and long-term savings on energy bills.
"I applaud the school district for making an investment in energy that could potentially redirect millions in savings to our students," said State Senator Jean Fullerton, who represents Barstow in California's 18th District.
Barstow will also join hundreds of other districts across the state in benefiting from state Net Metering policy, which credits solar customers for the surplus clean energy their systems send to the grid for neighbors to consume. Net Metering allows California schools to help the grid become cleaner and more efficient while diverting taxpayer spending on energy to increased spending on education.
"Barstow Unified School District is proud to set an example of environmental leadership for our students and our community," said BUSD Superintendent Jeff Malan. "More importantly, going solar will help us to provide the best possible education for our students by cutting energy costs to free up funds that can be used directly in our classrooms to assist the teaching and support staff."
SolarCity has completed or undertaken more than 300 solar projects for schools, community colleges and universities across the country, and now has more than 2,800 employees.
"Nowhere is the value of solar greater than in our schools, where reduced utility electricity consumption benefits taxpayers, students, administrators and the environment," said SolarCity Regional Vice President Jim Cahill. "SolarCity is proud to help the Barstow Unified School District achieve its goals of continued educational and institutional improvement."
The solar power systems will also provide students with firsthand demonstrations of how solar technology works, and of solar energy's benefits to the classroom, where students can view the school's real-time energy production.
SolarCity will install solar on these BUSD facilities: Cameron Elementary School, Crestline Elementary School, Henderson Elementary School, Montara Elementary School, Barstow Junior High School, Barstow High School, Central High School and the Barstow District Office.