California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) is a university in the California State University system and has been ranked the Best in the West 24 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. As part of their net zero sustainability plan, the university wanted to build a solar farm on land adjacent to the campus.
REC Solar was selected by Cal Poly to build a 4.5 megawatt (AC) solar farm. The 18.5-acre solar farm is slated for completion in winter 2017. It will include more than 16,000 individual solar panels and will generate more than 11 million kWh per year — enough to power more than 1,000 homes, or about 25 percent of Cal Poly’s total needs. In addition to the environmental benefits, the energy produced by the solar farm will result in direct savings on Cal Poly’s utility bills totaling about $17 million over 20 years. The solar farm is being financed by REC Solar via a power purchase agreement (or PPA), which allows Cal Poly to purchase energy at a lower rate, without paying any upfront costs for the system construction and maintenance.