Enfinity and Conergy Graduate Solar Power Project for California Schools
California’s Pioneer Union Elementary School District Expects to Cut Power Costs by More Than $30,000 a Year, Generate 77 Percent of Electricity For Three Campuses
ATLANTA — May 21, 2010 – Major reductions in funding have put school districts across the country in the precarious position of forcing teacher layoffs, class-size increases and elimination of programs as they continue to look for more ways to cut costs. The Pioneer Union Elementary School District (PUESD) in California—a state particularly hard hit by the budget crunch—is doing its part to not only reduce costs, but also to help the environment with the launch of a new solar power project, created in partnership with Enfinity, one of the world’s largest and most experienced solar photovoltaic (PV) development companies, and Conergy, a global leader in PV system integration.
In a “Solar Celebration” held today in Hanford, Calif., PUESD and Enfinity unveiled the solar energy farms at the Frontier Elementary, Pioneer Elementary and Pioneer Middle School campuses. The jointly-developed solar power project is expected to cut operational costs for the PUESD by more than $30,000 a year; provide a hedge against rising energy bills; and create clean, renewable energy to accommodate up to 77 percent of the electricity needs for the three campuses. Enfinity partnered with solar firm Conergy to engineer and construct the installation.
“We are dealing with a shrinking tax base and increasing energy costs that are working together to create a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges for public school districts across the country,” said Diane Cox, Pioneer Union Elementary School District superintendent. “We plan to use the cost savings to offset the budget deficit to our district. The dollars saved will go directly back into the classrooms by supporting our existing instructional programs.”
According to Cox, the onsite solar farms will also provide students with valuable first-hand knowledge and proof of concept, augmenting solar education for all teachers looking to integrate this curriculum at their respective grade levels. The project will also support other district environmental initiatives that include recycling and air quality monitoring.
“For a solar power project to be successful, it must be carefully directed from the first meeting through to completion,” said Rafael Dobrzynski, CEO of Enfinity America Corporation. “For companies or institutions, the key is to work with a finance and development partner that can really drive the project forward—one that can completely develop, deploy and finance renewable energy solutions that produce tangible electricity cost savings.”
The Project at a Glance
The project consists of three ground-mounted solar PV systems that include 10,898 individual solar panels. Collectively, the solar farms will generate 2,306,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year—enough power for approximately 315 homes. The PUESD Board unanimously approved the project plan noting that the solar energy systems could save the district more than $150,000 in utility costs during the first five years of operation with no capital outlay from the district itself. The solar PV systems were constructed by Conergy and have been financed by Enfinity via a Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA. Enfinity has financed and will maintain and operate the systems and, in turn, sell the electricity generated back to the district at a cost lower than the district’s current electricity rates.
In addition to the cost savings, PUESD expects to offset more than 25,800 tons of CO2 over the life of the project. The equivalent of:
- Eliminating the emissions from cars driving 84,046,231 miles; or
- Planting 442.5 acres of trees.
David Vincent, West Coast development manager for Conergy said, “This project is a prime example of what happens when the need to reduce costs meets the commitment to deliver clean energy. There’s no reason why this solar project shouldn’t be replicated in thousands of other school districts; we’ve proven that solar power has a real financial benefit.”
Enfinity’s Director of DG and Partner Program Mark Dominé added that the three PUESD projects also qualified for an estimated $2.8 million in accelerated depreciation and federal tax incentives and another approximately $1.4 million in cash rebates through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program.
According to Dominé, “Enfinity was able to make this solar power project a reality through our in-depth understanding and utilization of state and federal incentive programs and our ability to put together customized financing options that met the Pioneer Union Elementary School District’s needs.”
Enfinity specializes in financing and developing renewable energy projects worldwide, with operations in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. To finance these projects, Enfinity works with individual project companies funded by equity investors and banks. Enfinity is currently developing, building and financing solar PV projects with a total capacity of more than 145 MW and is planning to initiate several hundred megawatts through 2010. Enfinity’s 2009 revenues topped more than $300M, and it recently consolidated its international position as a global player with a $64 million investment from Waterland. For more information, visit http://www.enfinitycorp.com.
Conergy designs, manufactures, installs and finances solar photovoltaic solutions for major commercial sectors, public agencies, businesses and homeowners through two distinct channels. Conergy’s Projects Group focuses on custom solutions for large-scale, energy-intensive enterprises; Conergy’s Distribution Group serves a national network of installers, developers and dealers in the grid-tied and off-grid residential realm, while also addressing the needs of small commercial markets. With ten years’ market expertise, Conergy has successfully deployed projects totaling over 1.25 Gigawatt of renewable energy capacity around the world – nearly a full Gigawatt in innovative solar PV solutions. With operations in 14 countries over 4 continents, Conergy is helping drive the world’s burgeoning clean energy economy. Learn more at www.conergy.us.