Solar Gets a Boost

Aug. 2, 2011

Fueled by falling solar costs and significant utility bill savings, large companies and schools are installing solar panels anywhere they have room for them:

  • General Motors will install a 516-kilowatt solar array on 6 acres at one of its Detroit plants. The array will slash energy bills by $15,000 annually – enough to charge 150 electric cars every day for a year.
  • The South San Francisco Unified School District is moving forward with a 1.68-megawatt solar and efficiency project that spans 15 K-12 sites. This clean energy is expected to save the district $20 million by cutting its utility usage by 50%.
  • The East Side Union High School District in California recently completed the largest K-12 solar program in the U.S. Combined with efficiency upgrades, solar installations across 13 sites will generate 7.1 megawatts of energy and $43 million in savings. By reducing annual electrical usage by over 55%, the program will produce savings in the first year alone equivalent to funding 30 teaching jobs.
  • McGraw-Hill plans to build a 14.1-megawatt solar system – the largest privately owned, net-metered solar project in the Western Hemisphere. The panels will offset energy consumption for multiple offices and a corporate data center. The project is expected to reduce the company’s annual carbon emissions by 10%.
  • Toys “R” Us will add the largest rooftop solar installation in North America. The 5.38-megawatt system will occupy almost 870,000 square feet and generate approximately 70% of the building’s electricity needs. The thin-film cells will produce over 6,360,000 kilowatt-hours of power each year.
  • The Gloucester Marine Terminal in New Jersey is also vying for the honor of largest rooftop solar installation with a 1.1-million-square-foot project. The 9-megawatt system includes over 27,500 solar panels over a refrigerated warehouse and is anticipated to produce nearly 80% of the building’s power demand.

If you haven’t considered solar yet, remember that there are a variety of funding options available. From energy performance contracts and power purchase agreements to state and federal tax incentives, solar may be more affordable than you think.

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