District Gains First Large-Scale Solar Array

Thanks to the installation of a solar-electric system from RWE Schott Solar, The Empire Union School District, is the first district in the state to receive a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) rebate for a photovoltaic (PV) power generation system. In addition to being the Central Valley’s first large scale PV installation, this is the first system to connect into and credit power back to the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) municipal utility. The 45 kW solar array is installed at the Norman Glick Middle School in Modesto, California.

Rocklin, California – January 13, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Modesto averages 162 days of sunshine and only 12.25 inches of rain per year, making it an ideal location for the use of solar electric systems. The Norman Glick Middle School PV system takes advantage of the sunny weather, producing power year round. The school is able to bank the power it generates on weekends, as well as during the summer months when the school is closed. This reduces the overall energy costs for the school and saves taxpayers money. “It is gratifying to see our rooftop PV installation and shade structure systems producing clean power for our school and, of course, there are a lot of good things we can say about solar power and the reduction in our energy costs. But there is an added benefit with these particular systems – education,” said Don Kiger, business manager for the Empire Union School District. “The students are curious about how these systems work and what they do. This exposure to a practical real-world example of a renewable energy solution is a great teaching tool. While we can physically measure our power use and dollar savings, helping students learn about the benefits of clean, renewable energy is immeasurable.” The self-generation incentive program provides financial incentives to PG&E customers who install certain kinds and sizes of “clean” on-site distributed power generation. In this case, the installation consists of a 15kW system on the roof of one building and a 30kW system on a purpose-built shade structure. With the system now authorized to operate in parallel with the electric grid and confirmed to meet other criteria established by the California Public Utilities Commission, a rebate incentive check for $172,647 is expected to be issued in January. This is the first and largest PV installation in the Central Valley served by MID. It can generate approximately enough electricity to power 15 to 30 average homes. “It’s important that customers in the commercial market and public sector know about the self-generation incentive program rebates,” said Marc Roper, director of sales for RWE SCHOTT Solar. “This is a great example of where a customer is served electrical power by one utility company, MID, but is still eligible for the rebate because they are also a PG&E gas customer. These rebates help defray the initial cost of the system and accelerate the payback period.”

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