Somerton schools eye reduced energy costs from solar
The Somerton Elementary School District is hoping to reduce its electric bill by up to $40,000 a month, thanks to a solar project that will supply power to five schools.
The solar power system consists of about 6,600 photovoltaic panels placed on top of carports and shade structures on the campuses of Somerton Middle School, Desert Sonora, Orange Grove and Tierra Del Sol elementary schools and the Valle del Encanto Learning Center. Under a 20-year agreement, the system will belong to and be maintained by Constellation, a Baltimore-based energy company that will sell the generated power to the Somerton district.
Company officials estimate the system will serve up to 60 percent of the electricity needs of the schools. That, said Jerry Cabrera, director of human resources and operations for the district, will result in an estimated savings of $30,000 to $40,000 in electricity costs per month.
“Supporting solar generations helps our district to save operating costs and serve as an education resource for the district,” Cabrera said. “An added benefit is that the panel structures provide needed shade for parking and play areas.”
“Solar as a power-generation source allows schools to better manage electricity costs and demonstrates the importance of clean energy resources to students, faculty and the community,” said Constellation's vice president of solar and energy efficiency sales, Michael D. Smith, in a news release.
The system was unveiled last week at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that brought representatives from Constellation, Arizona Public Service and Core Construction to Somerton Middle School. Core Construction was the contractor of the project, completed through financial incentives that APS offers to customers that install renewable energy systems.