November 26, 2012

Peter Madrid

Wilson Electric Solar Energy Projects to Save Phoenix School More Than $1.5M

Washington Elementary School District completed a 961 kW solar energy project for Sunnyslope Elementary School and Mountain View Elementary School (above photo) in North Phoenix.

In the first year of operation, the school district will save more than $28,000 in operational expenses, which is expected to grow to $1.5M over the next 20 years.

Wilson Electric Services Corporation designed and installed the systems with special consideration for the needs of the facility, ensuring the roof-mounted systems were ballasted and non-penetrating.

Solar support structures were built across the playgrounds and parking lots, which provided invaluable shading for the students’ most frequently used areas. Mountain View Elementary’s system includes 1,897 modules. The 550-kW system is meeting 61% of the school’s electricity needs. Sunnyslope Elementary’s 1,425 modules generate 82% of the school’s electricity needs from a 411-kW system.

The largest elementary school district in Arizona has a strong reputation for its Energy Conservation program; however, the upfront cost of solar has been prohibitive. Tioga Energy provided the solution: through its SurePath Solar power purchase agreement, Tioga owns and maintains the systems, selling the solar-generated electricity back to the school at rates below the utility.

Using the PPA from Tioga, the schools also benefit from the solar tax incentives which public entities are not eligible for alone. As the system owner, Tioga passes the incentives onto the schools.

Additionally, Wilson Electric and Tioga sponsored the district’s enrollment in the National Energy Education Development program. Teachers were trained in solar education curriculum development to incorporate into their classrooms.

“Overall, Tioga and Wilson Electric earned an A+ from our team,” said Sue Pierce, Director of Facility Planning and Energy for the Washington Elementary School District.

Each school has a touch-screen, web-based kiosk that displays real-time and historic system production data, as well as “fun fact” figures about the various carbon offset equivalents created through the use of solar energy. The district’s annual carbon dioxide reduction through these solar systems is estimated at 838 tons per year, or the equivalent of 154 passenger vehicles taken off the road.

“Our work with WESD demonstrates that the cost of solar power is not an insurmountable barrier; even the most budget-conscious organizations can achieve their sustainability objectives and realize major financial savings,” said Paul Detering, CEO of Tioga Energy.

Tioga Energy enables commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations to reduce electricity costs and enhance environmental sustainability without capital outlay. Tioga Energy owns and operates more than 100 renewable energy systems across the U.S.