California’s Butte College is the first college in the U.S. to become “grid positive,” generating more electricity from its solar arrays than it consumes and delivering power back to the electrical grid.
Butte College will see a significant cost savings from its solar arrays, estimating that $50-75 million will be saved over the next 15 years, even after accounting for project costs and interest, by eliminating its electricity bill, earning more for excess electricity production, and avoiding future electricity rate increases.
“Butte College has had a longstanding commitment to sustainability,” says Diana Van Der Ploeg, president of Butte College. “Achieving grid-positive status marks the culmination of years of effort to build Butte College’s supply of solar power and to improve energy efficiency on campus.”
After implementing its first solar energy project in 2005 and its second in 2008, the college now operates a total of 25,000 solar panels that will generate more than 6.5 million kWh of electricity per year, which is enough to power more than 941 average-sized homes or the equivalent of removing 615 passenger cars from the roadways.