Solar Panels in San Jose – San Jose, California Schools Go Solar and Incorporate Solar Technology into Curriculum
Last year, East Side Union High School District in San Jose, California joined forces with Chevron Energy Solutions (CES) to install solar panels on 6 school sites. The solar project's goal is threefold: 1) to save the struggling school district $7.6 million dollars over the next 5 years; 2) to prepare students for careers in the cleantech industry and spark student enthusiasm in science and the environment; and 3) to reduce the city's carbon emissions by 3,100 metric tons per year.
“Our schools will all benefit from these savings, especially in these tough economic times when they’re needed most,” said the Superintendent Dan Moser at that time. “Also, this project reduces our carbon footprint and allows us to incorporate solar into our teaching curriculum so our teachers and students can learn about renewable energy technologies firsthand.”
At the center of the solar panel installation program is curriculum which will prepare students for future professions. Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions explained: “This project is a prime example of how education institutions can use solar projects to provide budget relief and teach the next generation about clean technologies.”
The solar panels at six school sites will generate enough power to light more than 250,000 average-sized compact fluorescent light bulbs. The district will also reduce its purchase of utility power through this project, which is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 3,100 metric tons per year, equivalent to planting more than 980 acres of trees. Through professional development workshops, the district’s teachers will learn how they can use hands-on solar kits and activity guides in the classroom to teach students about solar energy.
The financial savings cannot be glossed over, either. With the California state budget hitting San Jose big-time, the financial savings due to solar panels will are expected to reduce electric utility costs by more than $1.5 million in the first year, $7.6 million over five years, and provide total savings of $36 million over the life of the project.
The importance of the joint relationship between the San Jose School district and Chevron is a model for school districts all over the country. It demonstrates the power of private-public relationships, the importance of environmental education, and ways school districts in desperate need of cash can benefit from solar technologies.