This morning, Constellation Energy, along with Urban Energy Solutions and Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) announced the completion of a series of solar arrays across 82 TUSD school campuses and support facilities totaling 23.8 MW-DC in generation, making it the largest school district collective project in Arizona, and one of the largest in the nation.
Today’s announcement marks the ultimate completion of a project which began over five years ago and was developed in three phases. The construction and location of the arrays were designed to additional function as awnings to provide shade for children’s playgrounds and some parking areas.
While the school district did not have to provide any up front capital to finance the project, it did sign 20-year solar services agreements with Constellation to purchase the electricity generated by the arrays. In a press release, Constellation and TUSD tout that the generated electricity will be enough to cover almost half of the district’s electricity needs (47%).
“I am very proud of the District’s commitment over the last five years to install the solar arrays at our schools and facilities,” said TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo.“They not only produce energy to run our schools while reducing our carbon footprint, they also provide wonderful shaded areas for our playgrounds and parking areas.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the arrays will save the school district from emitting nearly 31,000 metric tons of carbon annually, and provide the same avoided environmental impact as taking over 6,600 cars off the road. These environmental impact benefits are highly touted by the school district, which provides a fairly comprehensive look at the generation breakdown and effects of each of the individual projects on the school district’s website.
“Our team is grateful for the opportunity to develop these utility cost-savings projects for TUSD while also empowering the District’s environmental initiatives,” said director of Engineering and Development for Urban Energy Solutions John Mitman. “TUSD has earned the right to be proud of its environmental stewardship through supporting these solar energy projects.”
Constellation, Urban Energy Solutions and TUSD will be officially commemorating the project’s completion on October 17, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at at Dietz K-8 School in Tucson. Constellation will also be hosting a series of experiments for Dietz students following the ceremony to teach them about the benefits of renewable energy as well as showing them how solar energy works. Hopefully those experiments, along with the everyday visual reminder of the benefits of renewable energy will help to inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators in the energy sector.
Correction: This article was corrected at 12:15 PM EST on October 15. The article and headline previously referred to this as the largest solar project built on behalf of a school district in the nation, however this was incorrect. We regret the error.