Oroville, California’s Butte College recently became the first college in the United States to go “grid-positive.“ Not only will the college generate more electricity from its solar arrays than it consumes, but it will also contribute to energy efficiency by delivering power back to the electric grid.
“Butte College has had a longstanding commitment to sustainability. Achieving grid-positive status marks the culmination of years of effort to build Butte College’s supply of solar power and to improve energy efficiency on campus,” says recently retired Butte College president Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg.
Despite project costs and interest, the college estimates that, by eliminating its electricity bill, getting paid for excess electricity production and avoiding future electricity rate increases, it will save between $50 million and $75 million over a span of 15 years.
Butte College plans to use these savings to increase enrollment and improve student offerings.
Currently, Butte College operates a total of 25,000 solar panels that generate over 6.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year – enough to power more than 941 average-sized homes, or the equivalent of removing 615 passenger cars from roadways.
“Future generations are counting on us to address the profound challenge of global warming, and we know that our future prosperity will hinge on America’s ability to be a leader in the clean-energy economy,” says House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA). “Butte College’s accomplishments in renewable energy and sustainability help show the way toward building a stronger economy while preserving the planet.”
Operating as a self-contained city, Butte College has its own water system, maintains its own sewage treatment facility and operates the largest community college transportation system in California. The college implemented its first solar-power project in 2005 and its second one in 2008.
To learn more about Butte College, click here.