Cal Poly Begins Construction on 4.5 Megawatt (AC) Solar Farm

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Work is underway on a Cal Poly solar farm project that will create Learn by Doing opportunities for students, save the university millions of dollars, and provide up to 25 percent of the campus’s total electricity needs.

The 18.5-acre solar farm is being built on university grazing lands adjacent to Highway 1 on the western edge of the Cal Poly campus. The panels will be installed on the natural slope of grasslands located between the California Men’s Colony and the San Luis Obispo Water Treatment Plant, located off Stenner Creek Road.

Workers began driving steel piers into the ground in late September in preparation for the solar arrays. Construction is expected to finish in late December.

The farm will include more than 16,000 individual solar panels with a total capacity of 4.5 megawatts (AC) and will generate more than 11 million kWh per year — enough to meet the needs of more than 1,000 homes, or about a quarter of Cal Poly’s total power needs.

The solar farm will use single-axis tracking technology to follow the sun across the sky, producing approximately 30 percent more energy than a stationary system.

Besides environmental benefits, the solar energy produced will generate nearly millions in savings for the university over the next two decades. REC Solar is financing the project via a power purchase agreement (PPA) that allows Cal Poly to buy energy at a lower rate, without paying any upfront costs for the system construction and maintenance.

When the project is completed this winter, Cal Poly’s Animal Science program will use the site to research vegetation management practices for utility scale solar farms while grazing the site with its sheep herd.

San Luis Obispo-based REC Solar is partnering with the university to provide funds for student and faculty involvement; help develop curriculum that meets Cal Poly’s sustainability learning objectives and educates future renewable energy professionals; and collaborate on applied research. The curriculum will integrate solar photovoltaic (PV) fundamentals into a variety of science and engineering courses and create new courses for renewable energy system design.

About Cal Poly Sustainability
The 2014 CSU Sustainability Policy aims for all campuses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2040. On Earth Day 2016, Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong signed the Second Nature Climate Leadership Commitment to take Cal Poly beyond this goal and reach full climate neutrality by 2050, meaning net zero emissions from all sources. For more information, visit www.sustainability.calpoly.edu.

About REC Solar
REC Solar is a nationwide leader providing complete commercial, public sector and utility-scale solar solutions. Incorporating experience from more than 580 successful commercial solar installations since 1997, REC Solar tailors financing and technology solutions to immediately deliver bottom line savings. REC Solar makes solar simple, working seamlessly with customer operations to deliver clean energy for decades. For more information, visit RECSolar.com or call 844-732-7652.

Contact: Dennis Elliot
805-756-2090; delliot@calpoly.edu

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