Campus: CSU Northridge -- February 26, 2003

Solar Electric System to Power CSUN


The installation of more than 3,000 solar panels at Cal State Northridge is expected to save the university more than $50,000 annually in energy costs while at the same time contributing to a cleaner environment.

One of the largest solar electric installations at a public university in California, the $1.8 million Photovoltaic Project was developed through a partnership with the university's Physical Plant Management, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Southern California Gas Company and Shell Solar Industries.

LADWP and The Gas Company officials will present the university with incentive checks totaling more than $1.6 million during a special ceremony to dedicate the new facility today.

"For the past two decades, Northridge has been very active in seeking new and innovative technologies to reduce its energy bills," said Mohammad Qayoumi, CSUN's vice president of administration and finance. "This project is a good example of the university's commitment to promoting environmentally friendly technologies, support energy conservation and reduce its energy costs.

"Moreover, the project represents an excellent example of the collaborative work between academic and administrative divisions of the university, namely our College of Engineering and Computer Science and Physical Plant Management, as well as a model partnership between LADWP, Southern California Gas Company, Shell Solar Industries and CSUN."

The 3,024 Shell solar modules, which are doubling as shading in student parking lot E6 at the northern end of the campus off Halsted Street, can generate 75 watts of power each, producing a peak generating capacity of 225 kilowatts. Much of this power will be generated exactly when it is needed most between 1 and 5 p.m. during summer months.

Photovoltaic cells in the panels absorb the sun's rays, creating direct current power that is directed to a substation where it is converted to alternating power. It is then increased to 4,160 volts of energy and fed into a power grid that distributes electricity throughout the campus. In addition to saving energy, the use of the photovoltaic cells is also easing the campus' impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, by using 225 kilowatts of photovoltaic capacity, you reduce carbon emissions equal to the amount emitted by an average passenger car driving 722,181 miles.

Chester Farris, senior vice president of Shell Solar said, the use of solar panels is a logical choice for the university.

"Solar energy makes sense — Shell solar modules are warrantied for 25 years of pollution free power production and they are made right here in Los Angeles," Farris said. Angelina Galiteva, LADWP executive director of Green LA programs, said, "The installation of this newest solar system marks another step toward a cleaner environment in Los Angeles.”

“LADWP’s solar incentives allow Los Angeles businesses, centers of education and residents alike to cost effectively tap into the sun as a clean, renewable power source. The savings realized by the university will allow more funds to be directed to educational and student programs,” Galiteva said.

Through the statewide Self-Generation Incentive Program, Southern California Gas Co. will award up to $54 million in incentives over the next three years to its business customers, which will generate 50,000-60,000 kilowatts of power. Launched in 2001 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the program pays qualifying businesses up to 50 percent of the costs of installing electricity generation systems.

"The Self-Generation Incentive Program makes the purchase and installation of eligible technologies more affordable than ever, which helps our customers become more energy-sufficient and self-reliant," said Richard M. Morrow, vice president of customer services, major markets for Sempra Energy Utilities—The Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric.
The project has also provided a team of CSUN engineering students an opportunity to put to use the skills they have learned in the classroom.

"It's probably been the greatest opportunity I've had so far in school," said Josh Gallo, a junior studying electrical engineering who served as the project manager. "I was able to apply what I've learned in the classroom to a real world situation. In the classroom you deal with numbers and a lot of math, but working on this project I really learned what it takes to get something built and how to deal with all sorts of people."

Cal State Northridge is considered a leader in energy conservation among universities across the country. CSUN was hailed two years ago by the Clean Air Coalition for its use of alternative energy.

In 2001, the campus installed six microturbines through a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality District and LADWP, as a way to save energy and reduce its reliance on the state's fragile electrical grid.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu

Background Information

Shell Solar makes, markets and sells photovoltaic cells and modules. It is one of the world's largest companies in this fast growing market. For information about Shell Solar, visit their Web site at www.shell.com/solar. (Photographs of the installation at CSUN are available upon request. Contact Tina Nickerson at (805) 388-6519.)

Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, serving 18 million customers through 5.1 million meters. The company's service territory encompasses 23,000 square miles in most of central and Southern California. The Gas Company is part of Sempra Energy Utilities, the umbrella for Sempra Energy's regulated business units. Sempra Energy is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For information about The Gas Company's Self Generation Incentive Program, visit their Web site at www.socalgas.com/business/selfgen.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation's largest city-owned utility, serves more than 3.8 million people in a 465-square-mile service area. LADWP is celebrating its century of service providing water and electric needs to the city's residents and businesses.
LADWP has assisted with a number of solar power system installations at such well-known businesses as Whole Foods Market, Helms Bakery and Neutrogena. The Solar Incentive Program offers rebates of $4.50 per watt, or $6 per watt if the system is manufactured in the City of Los Angeles. The Solar Incentive Program is part of LADWP’s Green LA programs, which also include: Green Power - purchasing new renewable clean energy; Energy Efficiency - offering rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances; Trees for a Green LA – sponsoring workshops for residential customers who then may receive up to seven shade trees; Electric Transportation - teaching customers about the benefits of nearly pollution-free driving; and Cool Schools - providing shade trees and instruction to students while lowering campus energy costs. Further information about the solar and other Green LA programs is available by visiting www.GreenLA.com or calling 1-800-GreenLA.

California State University, Northridge has more than 32,000 full- and part-time students and offers 59 bachelor's and 41 master's degrees as well as 28 education credential programs. Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando Valley and the fourth largest in the 23-campus CSU system. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges recently said CSUN "stands as a model to other public urban institutions of higher education."


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