Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Positive education: Sacramento high school goes solar

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Ah, high school. Those were the days. Well, not really. I couldn’t wait to get out of that place. Then again, my high school was the kind of place that turns up in horror movies. But hey, it’s Friday night. I’d rather imagine that I went to high school in Dillon, Texas, and Tami Taylor was my sympathetic counselor. But I digress.

I’d like to think that the students of St. Francis High School in Sacramento will go on to have much happier memories of the best years of their lives. They’ll certainly have good stories to tell their kids, like how they remember when most schools were powered by expensive electricity, and not primarily powered by the sun.

St. Francis recently installed a 253-kilowatt solar energy system to seven buildings on campus, which is expected to generate up to 31 percent of the school’s electricity, and save them a whopping $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

The school’s new energy system is showcased in a new report from the Environment California Research & Policy Center, “California’s Solar Cities 2012: Leaders in the Race Toward a Clean Energy Future.” Paid for through a grant from the U.S. Treasury and through rebates from the Sacramento Municipal Utility Department (SMUD).

“Our students are excited and happy to have solar panels here at the high school,” explained Ingrid Niles, the communications director of St. Francis to the Valley Community News (wow, high schools have communications directors now?) “I think overall, our kids think having something like this is pretty cool and we hope we inspire a few of them to look at this stuff after high school.”

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