We regularly profile the gritty details of large solar projects from SunPower, First Solar, NRG and others. They are notable by virtue of their sheer massive scale.

But we strive to bring attention to other notable solar projects, as well -- even if they're not quite 500 megawatts in size.

Cupertino Electric is constructing solar systems on 10 different sites for the San Bruno Park School District during the three-month summer break. It's a modest program by utility standards, totaling 837 kilowatts across the 10 sites, but it provides a large percentage of the school district's electrical usage, uses a variety of mounting schemes like ground-mount and roof-mount, and the project has to be completed before the kids come back to school in a few weeks.

C. David Myers, president of building efficiency for Johnson Controls, said in a NYT article, “If we tested schools in efficient use of energy, many of them wouldn’t get a passing grade."  The San Bruno project addresses a small piece of that failing grade.  

I spoke with Earl Martin, the project executive for Cupertino Electric, a 1400-employee, privately held electrical contractor, about the program. There are eight roof-mount sites, one-ground mount site, and one covered walkway and carport installation -- using a total of more than 6,000 Canadian Solar 235-watt c-Si solar panels. Part of San Bruno's contract with Cupertino Electric includes a 10-year performance guarantee.
 
The project was financed as part of a $40 million bond measure -- so the School District owns the panels.

That's in contrast to other mechanisms for financing solar on schools.
 
Tioga Energy provides power purchase agreements to get solar on solar rooftops and uses the Athenian School as an example. Tioga Energy and their EPC partner REC Solar engineered, installed, financed, own and operate a PV system that supplies half of that school’s electrical needs at a fixed electrical power cost utilizing 1,300 solar panels.

Tags: cupertino electric