Palmdale high school to get solar panel system

A Palmdale high school is being outfitted with what's billed as the largest school solar power installation to date in California.

The $52 million, 9.6 megawatt, photovoltaic design-build project for the Antelope Valley Union High School District is being constructed without any capital expenditure by the district, according to the AVUHSD and Los Angeles-based contractor PsomasFMG.

It is projected to save $40 million over 20 years, once it begins generating electricity early next year, according to PsomasFMG, which is arranging for private investor financing.

"The solar solution we are celebrating today is a classic win-win public-private partnership that will help us cut our energy costs and provide shade in our parking lot, with no up-front costs," said Deputy District
Superinetendent Jeffrey Foster.

"PsomasFMG has been a willing partner, clearly explaining the project, delivering their product, and helping develop a green curriculum that will benefit our students,'' he said. "We look forward to flipping the switch and
bringing our district into a greener future."

The power installation will promote the school district's energy independence, substantially decrease its electrical costs and, over the next 20 years, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 250,000 tons, according to Paul Mikos, executive vice president of PsomasFMG.

The solar project is engineered to produce clean, green energy for more than 80 percent of the school district's electrical needs, he said.

Southern California Edison will supplement the school district's remaining energy requirements at a reduced rate.

PsomasFMG will provide long-term asset management for the project, which includes the sale of electricity at a fixed rate through a power purchase agreement, according to Mikos.

During its first full year of operation, the school district forecasts an 18 percent reduction in electrical expenses.

Ten of the district's high schools are involved in the installation, which includes the construction of steel-frame canopies to support solar panels and provide shaded parking for about 4,000 faculty and student vehicles.

The 9.6 megawatt power generation will use 41,000 photovoltaic panels that will absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity.

The solar structures are designed to achieve the minimum visual impact while absorbing optimal amounts of sunlight. Cost-effective, state-of-the-art lighting will be mounted beneath the canopies, and less efficient pole lighting will be removed.

The updated lighting will enhance personal safety, while video cameras will improve campus security, officials said.

The 10 solar systems are being installed in three phases, using construction crews that move between the campuses to allow for the greatest economies of scale.

Meantime, the Palmdale School District recently awarded a $30.8 million contract to PsomasFMG to construct a 6.4-megawatt solar power installation at 19 elementary schools.