Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg announced today that at least 10 City facilities and 16 schools will receive new solar panels in 2010.
The City and DPS worked together in recent months on this solar project, from issuing a joint Request for Proposal to the selection of solar vendors. Each City building and DPS school involved in the project will receive a solar PV (photo-voltaic) system with up to 100-kilowatts per installation.
“This solar project proves yet again that going green is not just good for the environment, it’s also good for the pocketbook,” Mayor Hickenlooper said. “We are pleased to partner with Denver Public Schools on another project that promotes sustainability in our City.”
“This is a terrific partnership for our taxpayers and for our students,” Boasberg added. “We’ll see significant savings in our bottom line, with no upfront infrastructure costs to the district, and it’s a great chance for our students to learn about the importance of sustainable energy in a very impactful way.”
The various solar projects will not cost the City or DPS any money initially. Developers on each project will pay the cost of construction, operation and maintenance of the solar plants. The City and DPS will pay only for the electricity produced. Final vendor contracts for the City and DPS projects are still being negotiated.
In the City, the General Fund is responsible for paying utility costs at most facilities, but because the cost of energy produced from these new systems will be less than the cost of traditional energy, the City will save money in the first year and each year thereafter as the cost of solar electricity escalates at a slower rate than traditional energy. The City hopes to save several hundred thousand dollars over 20 years by adding these solar projects.
Final engineering and site selection is being completed now, but the City plans to install systems at several recreation centers to promote renewable energy education for the kids who use the centers.
Pending vendor approval by the Denver Board of Education, construction at the first 16 DPS sites should begin in the spring. The school district expects to save about 30-40 percent on energy rates for the power produced from the PV system.
The school system also hopes to add up to an additional 24 schools to the project this year, with the second phase being completed in the fall.
Each building selected will provide an educational component to teach students and the public about renewable energy. In City buildings, for example, an interactive display will demonstrate how solar electricity works and will include as real-time energy generation statistics.
The 100-kilowatt solar systems generate enough clean electricity each year to power the average Denver home for 20 years (or 20 homes for one year). The City currently has 2.4-megawatts of solar at four sites: 2-megawatts at Denver International Airport; 300-kilowatts at the Colorado Convention Center; 100-kilowatts at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; and 30-kilowatts at the Castro Human Services Building.
The City and DPS recently worked together on a new recycling program in Denver schools and on the Denver Energy Challenge, in which the City and DPS meet environmental goals and save money by sharing resources and knowledge. The City and DPS have also joined forced in the Mile High Million tree initiative and are working to retrofit water fixtures in schools with low-flow fixtures.