26 Los Angeles schools go solar with SolarCity

A SolarCity array at a school in the Boulder Valley School DistrictSoon, a total of 26 schools in Los Angeles will go solar thanks to a new partnership with SolarCity. Under the partnership, SolarCity will install a total of 7.4-megawatts of solar power projects across 26 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools. Already the majority, 17 arrays, have been installed.

Already SolarCity has installed solar at the following schools under the contract: Byrd Middle School, East Valley Middle School No. 2, Gage Middle School, Narbonne High School, Reseda High School, South East Middle School, South East High School, South Gate High School, South Region Elementary School No. 5, South Region Elementary School No. 10, South Region Elementary School No. 9, South Regional High School No. 9, Southeast Area New Learning Center, Valley Region Elementary School No. 10, Valley Region Hesby Span K, and White Middle School.

Once completed the district will be one of the largest school districts to go solar. "Los Angeles Unified School District strives to be the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly large urban school district in the country," said Kim Kennedy, Senior Facilities Project Manager for LAUSD.

However, it’s far from the first school district to go solar. Nor does it have the largest planned school district solarization project. For instance, the Mount Diablo Unified School District in northern California has a partnership with SunPower Corp. for 11.2 megawatts of solar across its schools.

The solar arrays at the L.A. schools are under a power-purchase agreement with SolarCity, meaning the schools pay for the power produced by the arrays at a rate equal to or lower than what they’re currently paying for electricity. One of the advantages the solar arrays offer is that they produce the most power during peak hours in California, where grid-supplied electricity costs more during peak hours, between that and the long-term contract with SolarCity, the arrays throughout the district are predicted to save the school system $776,000 in electric costs in the first year and $25 million over the life of the 20-year contracts.

While the partnership has already resulted in 17 schools in the district going solar, nine more remain to be completed, according to SolarCity. It anticipates it will complete them in the first half or 2013. Despite installing solar on 26 schools, it’s still a far cry from making the entire school system solar. In all LAUSD has 900 schools and 187 charter schools.

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