California State University, Fullerton Integrates Solar Power

FULLERTON, Calif. — California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and San Jose, Calif.-headquartered SunPower Corp. announced June 28 that construction is now underway on a 4-megawatt SunPower solar power system at three university parking areas. CSUF will purchase the emission-free solar power generated by the system under a power-purchase agreement, enabling the university to offset more than one-third of its peak electrical load and potentially saving millions of dollars in electricity costs over almost 20 years, according to a statement by CSUF.

"With the cost-competitive solar power generated by our SunPower systems, the university will control electricity costs and reduce our carbon footprint," said Willem van der Pol, interim associate vice president for facilities management at CSUF, in a statement. "CSUF has supported sustainability in our operations for more than two decades, and we are proud to support the long-term health of our students, staff and community by increasing our reliance on solar power."

SunPower is building solar carports on two CSUF parking structures as well as a parking lot. At all three sites, the company will install its high-efficiency, direct-current solar panels, the world’s first solar panels to achieve a Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver designation. All of the systems are expected to be operational by the end of 2016, and CSUF will own the renewable-energy credits associated with the systems.

“It is extremely rewarding to enable our higher-education institutions to achieve significant operational savings while inspiring students with the great potential of solar power," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units, in a statement.

When operational, the solar power generated by the system will be equivalent to the energy used by 501 average American homes in one year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. SunPower estimates that one year of solar energy produced by the CSUF system could power more than 2,000 electric vehicles for 30 years, according to a statement by the firm.

This project is the latest in a 20-plus-year history of CSUF instituting efficient and sustainable practices. The campus installed its first 1-megawatt solar power system in 2012 and has constructed several LEED-certified buildings. Lighting efficiency is regularly upgraded, and low-flow fixtures and irrigation meters have also been installed across the campus. In addition to the university’s energy-smart, tri-generation plant, bio-swales were built to retain rainwater, and turf was replaced with drought-tolerant plants.