"Portland Community College building jumbo solar array"
PCC will power up a ground-mounted solar array similar to this one at its Rock Creek Campus later this year.
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon
In another first for solar energy and the state's public education system, Portland Community College will announce today that it's building the state's largest ground-mounted solar array at its Rock Creek Campus.
The $2.5 million project, funded in part by money from a 2008 bond measure, is expected to produce about 500,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in its first year of operation — enough to power about 40 average homes.
Last year, Oregon University System kicked off what it billed as the state's largest solar project with plans to install large-scale solar on its campuses.
For PCC, the 35,000 square-foot array, planned for an empty field near one of its buildings, is a way to meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The array will also provide about 60 percent of the energy needs of the Rock Creek Campus' Building 9, a 72,000 square-foot building that houses student services and the campus library.
The array will be built in partnership with PCC, Energy Trust of Oregon, SolarCity, SolarWorld and the Oregon Department of Energy. Construction will create about 40 jobs and the installation is expected to start generating power this spring.
SolarCity will own, operate and maintain the array. PCC will have the option to purchase it after 20 years of operation.
PCC is prepaying $830,000 for 20 years of solar energy under a power purchase agreement.
"PCC has been a great partner," said Kip Barrett, project development manager at SolarCity, in a press release. "The school has been actively involved with all aspects of their project; from site selection to integrating the system into curriculum for students."
In September, PCC installed two fuel cells from Hillsboro-based ClearEdge Power at its Sylvania Campus. Both that project and the new solar array will be used by the school as educational tools.