Project Profiles: Education

Santa Rita Union School District, Salinas, Calif.

Solar power systems and SmartStorage energy-storage systems provide up to seven hours of power at each school during a grid outage.

Solar power systems and SmartStorage energy-storage systems provide up to seven hours of power at each school during a grid outage.

Retrofit Team

Consultant: EcoMotion, Los Angeles
Engineer: Sharp Electronics Corp., Montvale, N.J., and Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kan.
Design-build Contractor: MBL-energy, San Jose, Calif.
Financier: Generate Capital, San Francisco

Materials

Solar power systems and SmartStorage energy-storage systems have been installed at six sites within the Santa Rita Union School District (SRUSD). The systems will provide up to seven hours of power at each school during a grid outage and will offset the school’s energy and demand usage, resulting in substantial savings on its utility bills. These multi-campus systems will enable the schools to support the local Salinas community as Powered Emergency Response Centers in the event of disasters that cause prolonged outages.

The intelligent energy-storage solution pairs with solar PV systems to work synergistically, reducing utility costs by pulling power from the SmartStorage batteries rather than from the utility at the times of highest demand, an operation that is well suited for facilities where utility bills are often one of the highest expenses. In the case of a grid outage, software will enable the transition to microgrid operation with only modest disruption to school operations. This capability helps shield the district from grid outages caused by rolling blackouts, brownouts, or severe weather events and minimizes disruptions to the school day for students, parents and faculty.

In total, the SRUSD systems include 1 megawatt of solar PV that is integrated with 1.1 MWh of SmartStorage behind-the-meter energy storage systems.

Energy Storage System Manufacturer: Sharp Electronics Corp.

The Retrofit

SRUSD recently hosted a ribbon-cutting at one of its sites facilitated by its consultant, EcoMotion. EcoMotion envisioned the project as a means of getting SRUSD the resiliency that it sought by combining batteries with ubiquitous solar power.
“California school districts face extremely challenging budgeting situations and any reduction in operational expenses can directly translate into money for teachers, books or supplies,” says Dr. Shelly Morr, SRUSD’s superintendent. “It is also important for our community that schools aren’t impacted by events, such as power outages, as this disrupts not just the school day, but parents having to leave work early or scramble to make other arrangements for their children. We’re excited to see these clean energy systems implemented on our school campuses.”

Photo: Sharp Electronics Corp.

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