180 kW of Solar Targets California Schools

California-based Prevalent Power has secured contracts to supply and install 180 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems for six California public schools. Prevalent Power helped the schools to secure approximately 80 percent of project financing through the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Solar Schools rebate incentive program.

Novato, California – July 22, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] In addition to saving money on the school’s energy bills, the PV systems, made by RWE Schott Solar, can provide an invaluable teaching tool that will be integrated into each school’s science and energy curriculum. The solar PV systems, which range in size from 20 to 30 kW each, provide a large portion of the electric power needed to run the schools. Because approximately 80 percent of the project cost is paid for by the Solar Schools program, the systems typically pay for themselves in less than 5 years through energy cost savings. Prevalent Power further helped many of its school clients secure CEC energy efficiency loans that cover the remaining 20 percent project cost at highly advantageous terms. The schools that applied to both the Solar Schools program and loan programs simultaneously will actually save money because the loan payments will be less than what they would otherwise pay the utility for the energy produced by the PV systems. The CEC and the California Power Authority established the Solar Schools Program to provide a higher level of funding for public and charter schools towards the installation of photovoltaic generating systems. Funded jointly by the CEC’s Emerging Renewables Program and the Attorney General’s Alternative Energy Retrofit Account (AGAERA), the Solar Schools program offers schools rebates that are twice the amount of those currently offered to homeowners. In addition, the program’s maximum system size cap of 30 kW is three times the 10 kW cap for the homeowner program. But saving money on energy is only half the benefit that schools will achieve under the Solar Schools program. The program requires that schools establish a curriculum tie-in plan to educate students on the benefits of solar energy and energy conservation. Prevalent Power provided schools with a turnkey tie-in plan to meet the curriculum requirements easily and effectively. The centerpiece of the curriculum tie-in is a Web-enabled data-acquisition and monitoring system called PV2Web from Fat Spaniel Technologies. PV2Web enables students, teachers and school administrators to monitor real-time and historical data about the PV system’s performance over the school’s existing computer network and on the Internet. By providing interactive access to system data, PV2Web serves as a platform for students to perform experiments and to learn more about the benefits of solar energy and energy conservation. “Saving money for California schools is of vital importance, particularly given the state’s budget difficulties,” said Arno Harris, Prevalent Power’s chief executive officer. “The additional opportunity to help schools teach students — tomorrow’s voters, policymakers and taxpayers — about the benefits of solar energy and energy conservation is more icing on the cake.” The PV system components are to be supplied by RWE Schott Solar (RSS). As part of the projects, RSS will provide 1,296 SAPC-165 solar PV modules and 7 Xantrex PV-series utility-interactive inverters as well as the necessary mounting hardware for the modules. Prevalent Power expects to complete the systems by the fall of 2004.
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