Solar PV Earns University $2.1 Million Incentive

One solar system just wasn’t enough for California State University (CSU) and their Northridge campus. The university received an incentive check for $2.1 million from Southern California Gas Company and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) during a ceremony to dedicate the university’s second solar electric system.

The latest $3.5 million project was developed by the university’s Physical Plant Management in partnership with the gas company and LADWP. More than 2,800 165-watt solar panels were built on the southwest side of the Northridge campus for the second installation. These are in addition to more than 3,000 75-watt panels on CSUN’s north side, are expected to save the university more than $140,000 annually in energy costs. Together, the installations constitute one of the largest solar electric systems at a public university in California. “Cal State Northridge is deeply committed to being a leader in its sustainability efforts and will continually seek new and innovative technologies to reduce its energy bills,” said Mohammad Qayoumi, CSUN’s vice president of administration and finance. “This project is a good example of our efforts to promote environmentally friendly technologies, support energy conservation and reduce energy costs.” The 2,832 solar modules are doubling as shading in faculty parking lot B2 on the southwest end of the campus. Peak generating capacity for the array should reach 467 kilowatts, and much of this power will be generated exactly when it is needed most, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. during summer months. Energy collected by the array goes through a substation for AC conversion and to increase the power to 4,160 volts of energy, according to CSUN. The energy is then fed into the campus power grid. In addition to saving energy, the use of the photovoltaic cells is also easing the impact of older technology on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, by using 467 kilowatts of photovoltaic capacity, one can reduce carbon emissions equal to the amount emitted by an average passenger car driving 1.5 million miles. The latest solar project’s installation, completed while students and faculty still used the lot for parking, was overseen by a team of CSUN engineering students who even redesigned some of the installation equipment to make the process more user friendly. Lillian Kawasaki, LADWP assistant general manager for environmental affairs and economic development, said “We are proud to partner with CSUN and commend them for not only embracing solar technology, but including their students in the process. Students learn that solar power is not just a concept, but a reality that will help create a sustainable energy future.”
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