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Solar for Schools: PUSD Solar Project
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Pittsburg Unified School District

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Pittsburg, CA


The Pittsburg Unified School District solar project is 3.1 megawatts (MW) installed over 14 school and administrative building sites. The solar PV systems, including ground mount, roof mount, and shade structures are expected to generate an estimated 4.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy every year. The reduced energy costs from the project will result in nearly $1 million in budgetary savings in the first year of operations alone, the equivalent of more than 14 full-time teacher salaries.

"We are very excited about greening our schools, reducing our energy purchases and putting more funds in classrooms... this is a wonderful opportunity to do the right thing, cut costs, and provide a real world education to our students about practical and effective ways to save energy." - Enrique Palacios Associate Superintendent 

Under budget pressure in the wake of the global economic crisis of 2008/2009, the Pittsburg Unified School District sought to marry its goal of environmental stewardship with its need to minimize costs. At a time when cost cutting all too often results in larger class sizes, fewer teachers and reduced academic programming, the district wanted to avoid compromising their commitment to quality education. With electricity prices rising at a compound annual growth rate of almost 6% per year for the last 30 years, it became clear that on-site solar energy systems is the clear path towards education security.

With the help of Stellar Energy the district designed a plan to reduce their electrical bills by as much as 90% through the installation of over thirteen thousand solar panels. A total of fifty-five shade structures were installed over forteen different sites including Pittsburg High School and two Junior High Schools. Over thirty years the system is expected to produce well over one hundred thousand megawatt- hours of clean, renewable energy, equivalent to 66% of the district's energy consumption.

In addition to cost savings, over its lifetime the PUSD solar energy system will offset 83,570 metric tons of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to the electricity use of 338 average homes. Meanwhile, the students of Pittsburg will enjoy nearly 240,000 square feet of shade from the hot California sun.

Download a copy of this Solar for Schools case study as a PDF

Click the image above to see aerial photos of the PUSD Solar for Schools Project


  • Energy Capacity: 3.3 MW DC (14 school sites)
  • # of Modules: 13,342 Yingli PV modules
  • Type of Mount: Ground mount, carports, shade-structures
  • Type of Inverter: 19 Satcon inverters
  • Monitoring System: SolarMagic data monitoring with weather station

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