The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is taking another big step in its goal of reducing energy consumption while saving money by installing solar panels at three of its sites.
Construction of the solar energy systems at the SDCOE main campus is expected to start in August or September and take about six weeks. The project will help SDCOE cut its electric bill by about 60 percent.
Eventually, when coupled with energy-saving technology and initiatives, the main campus is expected to produce as much energy each year as it consumes.
There are also solar projects planned as SDCOE's South County Regional Education Center and Cuyamaca Outdoor School.
In South County, SDCOE planners are working with Southwestern College to install two solar energy systems at the top of the center's parking structure; one for SDCOE and the other for the community college district. Work there is expected to start later this year.
The solar energy system being planned for Cuyamaca Outdoor School will provide the site with renewable energy as well as shade and protection from the rain for students at the school.
Buying and installing the solar panels at the three sites will cost SDCOE about $5.4 million. Over the next 25 years, the panels are expected to save the organization $16.1 million, for a net savings of about $9.6 million.
The solar project is part of a larger sustainability push led by SDCOE's Green Team. Other projects expected to be started over the next several months include upgraded lighting and air conditioning at some sites.
Green initiatives are not new to SDCOE. A campaign to go paperless began in 2008, a recycling initiative kicked off in 2015, and a water-wise irrigation system was installed last year.