Escalon Unified
Image credit: Stock

Escalon Unified School District (Escalon Unified) recently honoured the completion of a 1.2 MW solar photovoltaic and integrated energy efficiency, as well as STEM education initiative.

Escalon Unified leadership and Oakland, California-based energy partner ENGIE Services US, have completed the construction and implementation of the district-wide energy programme.

Through the collaborative partnership with ENGIE Services US, Escalon's energy upgrade represents a new approach to enhancing the learning environment, both inside and outside of the classroom. The programme is expected to generate $15.3 million in energy savings.

The district will provide ongoing milestone updates to the community on the following, expected outcomes:

• $15.3 million in expected energy savings over the programme lifetime
• 1,628 metric tons of Co2 emissions offset in the programme's first year, the equivalent to         removing 349 cars from the road
• 85% reduction in district electricity costs

In late summer 2017, ENGIE performed an energy assessment of the district's six campuses to identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption, energy costs, and improve facility performance.

With input from Escalon Unified facilities leaders and on-site stakeholders, the ENGIE team determined that focusing on solar PV installations, exterior lighting upgrades, a pool pump replacement, and HVAC upgrades would net Escalon Unified the greatest savings on their electricity bill.

Superintendent Ron Costa recognised the impact of all six campuses now being powered by clean energy, with each school having installed solar units, half of which are ground-mounted.

The shade canopy arrays at Escalon High School and the district office also double as parking structure covers, which protect students and vehicles from the sun.

Together, all six solar arrays bring the district's total energy capacity to produce 2 million kWh in the first year of the programme – the equivalent of enough clean energy to power over 160 local homes in Escalon for one year.

Leveraging community support

As shared by Superintendent Costa, "We couldn't have implemented the new solar we have throughout the district without a supportive community. Leveraging clean energy that is paid from savings allows Escalon to redirect our energy savings costs to support other mission-critical initiatives that help students prepare for STEM and sustainability careers of the future."

Student leaders in attendance also echoed excitement and pride for the project in their community. As shared by the Escalon High School Student Body vice president, "This project is a 'win-win' for us because it saves Escalon Unified a lot of money on energy costs – this can be used for other important things impacting our educational experience.

...We are showing other school districts across California that we can reduce our impact on the environment by using less non-renewable resources."