San Ramon Valley Unified School District Goes Solar to Save Big with Sunpower

The district was motivated by the significant cost savings that SunPower’s solar systems offer. Our solar installations will supply substantial savings to our district’s general fund, while preserving precious financial resources.”

– Steven W. Enoch, Superintendent, San Ramon Valley Unified School District

San Ramon Valley Unified School District Goes Solar to Save Big with SunPower

Budget reductions and rising energy costs are cutting into school districts’ general operating funds, but the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) found a bold solution for savings with SunPower. Having been awarded Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) by the State of California, the SRVUSD needed a capital improvement project that would offer a sizeable payback. Solar power’s ability to provide a strong return on investment and hedge against rising utility rates made it the clear choice.

The SRVUSD sought a proven solar provider who could deliver the best return on its investment of QSCBs. With high efficiency solar panels, a proprietary tracker technology, and a long history of successful solar projects, SunPower came out on top in the school district’s RFP process. A total of 3.3 MW is now supplying clean electricity to five schools. Over the next 25 years, the school district will save $24.4 million, benefiting the people who need it most: students and teachers.

Solar Power Capital Improvements Bring General Fund Savings

In 2009, the State of California awarded Qualified School Construction Bonds to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Capital improvement bonds like these come with low or no interest rates and give school districts the financial means to invest in their facilities at no up front cost. A solar power project is a unique facility improvement in that it offers bond repayment through rebates and long-term energy savings. “It made the most sense to find a project that would have energy savings since we have to pay back the bonds, and solar seemed like most established alternative energy source for schools,” said Rich Lowell, Director of Facilities Development at the SRVUSD.

SunPower Technology Offers Biggest Payback

SunPower won the SRVUSD contract through a best value competitive procurement process. SunPower’s high efficiency solar panels, tracker technology, and reputation gave the district confidence that the solar power system would be installed on-time and earn the highest possible payback. SunPower met an aggressive schedule to install the solar systems at 4 high schools and a middle school during the months when school was out. Now, these solar power systems will generate more than two-thirds of the schools' energy demands. Along with a 25-year warranty, the SRVUSD can rest assured that it will receive the best possible return on investment for the life of the solar system.

SunPower Partnership Goes Beyond Savings

Going solar with SunPower offers significant savings, but the partnership benefits more than just the general fund. The solar project also created over 100 jobs to help the local economy. Furthermore, SunPower offered a solar education pilot program with curriculum development and internships to support the district’s core mission. With educational support and local job creation, this partnership with SunPower benefited a whole region as well as saving the SRVUSD more than $24 million. And the SRVUSD's solar project is just the beginning. SunPower plans to install solar systems at more than 90 K-12 schools and higher education facilities across California, showing that solar power has a bright future in the education world.

Project Overview

Location:    Five Schools in San Ramon and Danville, CA
Completed:    September 2011
Installation Type:    Parking Canopies
System Size:    3.3 megawatts
Estimated Savings:    $24 Million
Covered Area:    172,240 square feet
Number of Panels:    10,340
Products:    SunPower® T0 Tracking Canopy

  • Projected to save the school district $24.4 million over 25 years
  • Will generate more than two-thirds of the schools' energy demands, significantly reducing each school's electricity bill
  • Will offset 76.3 million pounds of CO2 emissions over 25 years
  • Reduces risk from local electrical rates that have historically increased faster than inflation
  • Participated in SunPower’s solar education pilot program for the district’s Engineering Academies