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OHS flexes it’s solar power

Solar panels.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Oxnard High School's six acres of ground-mounted solar panels located behind the school. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD
As the nation celebrates Energy Awareness Month in October, Oxnard Union High School District is having a celebration of their own — announcing more than $405,190 savings achieved through an innovative energy conservation program and the first school now powered by solar panels. After more than a hundred years, Oxnard High School, which is now located on Gonzales Road in Oxnard, has all but ended its reliance on fossil fuels to generate light and power. Last Sunday, October 2nd, the 56-acre campus and more than 3,000 students, teachers, and support staff began using electricity generated by six acres of ground-mounted solar panels located behind the school. By February, 2012, the remaining five high schools in the District will go on line with solar systems. When finished, the six schools will generate more than 6 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy each year. This is enough to provide the average annual energy consumption for more than 10,000 households in California while offsetting more than 4,500 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions–the equivalent of taking 870 passenger vehicles off the road.

This project began taking shape in March, 2010, when the District worked with the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority to secure $19 million in Federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds to help finance the $25 million project. The District will use $6 million of its Measure H General Obligation Bond money to pay a share of the project. Over the next 25 years, the District will save $36 million in energy costs which will repay the total cost of the project in 15 years or less. On top of the energy savings, the District will receive more than $6 million in California Solar Initiative cash rebates. Oxnard Union High School District will own the systems which are built and installed by the California based company, SunPower, Inc.

Community members can also participate in tracking their own energy use and savings. Free online software — called GreenQuest — is available to the community served by Oxnard Union High School District. To use GreenQuest, go to the district’s green page at User-friendly GreenQuest is free for individual households and small businesses. GreenQuest’s informative features help users analyze data for up to three meters (electric, water and natural gas) by entering monthly utility bills.

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