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Cal State Long Beach to add new solar panel system

Parking lots 7 and 14 will be getting a SunPower Helix Carport system as part of CSULB’s latest effort to fight climate change and use clean energy.

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Cal State Long Beach to add new solar panel system

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Monica Gallardo, Staff Writer

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Cal State Long Beach will be undergoing a $20 million solar panel installation process beginning in May 2017, according to a university press release.

In addition to the three solar panels currently installed on campus at Brotman Hall, the Vivian Engineering Center and the yard next to the University Print Shop, a new solar power system will be added to Lot 7 – near the Theater Arts building – and Lot 14 – across from the Housing and Residential Life building.

The exact date for the groundbreaking is set for May 27, 2017.

The solar systems are expected to offset 15 percent of the campus’ energy with clean, renewable power, as well as provide shade and 50 electrical vehicle charging stations.

This new solar panel system, which is being produced by SunPower’s Helix Carport system, will be the largest across all of the California State University campuses.

[They] are the most efficient solar panels available on the market today,” said Nathan Griset, a representative for the solar energy company, “…they convert more of the sun’s rays into electricity than conventional solar panels, minimizing the amount of power from non-renewable sources that the campus needs for its operations.”

Griset said that the solar systems can power an estimated 2,200 electric vehicles for 30 years and have a total life expectancy of 40 years.

“According to estimates provided by Solar Energy Industries Association, the annual power production of the system will be equivalent to the power required by 1,200 average California homes,” he said. “The advantage of the SunPower Helix Carport system over competitive products is that it is a fully integrated solution that is engineered to be installed quickly, and deliver more energy and provide greater reliability over the long-term.”

Despite the addition of the solar panels to parking lots 7 and 14, CSULB’s Director of News and Digital Media Michael Uhlenkamp said students should not worry about increased parking fees.

While the panels are being installed in parking lots, this project is a sustainability initiative rather than a parking lot upgrade,” he said. “No parking fee revenues are associated with this project.”   

The total cost of the project is $20 million; however, SunPower will be responsible for installing the systems.

CSULB will pay a fixed rate of $0.1342 per kilowatt-hour for 20 years as part of the power-purchase agreement.

Uhlenkamp said that construction is set to begin the day after the final 2016-17 commencement ceremony to minimize parking disruption to students and is expected to be complete before the end of 2017.

However, students who plan on taking summer classes may need to adjust their schedules, as both lots will be closed during construction.

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley and Associate Vice President of Physical Planning and Facilities Management David Salazar, among others, made the decision to install the new system.

The project was also reviewed by CSULB’s Sustainability Task Force, a group consisting of faculty, staff and students.

“CSULB is proud to support California and the nation in our transition to clean and renewable energy sources,” Salazar said, “[in order] to fight climate change and its negative effects on our students, staff and community by increasing our reliance on solar power.”

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