WVMCCD Goes Solar
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West Valley-Mission Community College District

The West Valley-Mission Community College District is looking to the sun for its power needs. Newly installed solar arrays above parking lots on both the Mission College and West Valley College campuses began generating electricity earlier this month.

Once operating at full power, each solar project will generate one megawatt of power, or between 25 and 30 percent of each campus' current energy needs. That will translate into a yearly savings of at least $200,000 for each campus after factoring in annual debt payments, said Ed Maduli, WVMCCD vice chancellor of administrative services.

"This really represents the beginning of energy sustainability programs on our campuses," Maduli said. "We need to start thinking about sustainability on a global level and this is our initial contribution to that."

The $14.6 million project was funded through a variety of sources, including Measure H monies, tax exempt bonds and a Clean Renewable Energy Bond, a competitive bond program through the federal government. The system will be fully paid off in 15 years, Maduli said, meaning that all energy savings after that point would go to the district.

Laurel Jones, president of Mission College, describes the project as a peek into the future of sustainability at the college. "The solar project is a glimmer of what Mission College is committing to do for sustainability in general," she said. "Having the solar parking lot is our first step to actually being a role model for sustainable practices in the city of Santa Clara. Our next step on that journey will be our new phase one Main Building, which is certified LEED gold."

For Lori Gaskin, president of West Valley College, the solar project, along with its location near the main entrance to campus, speak to the college's commitment to the environment, including the natural beauty that surrounds the campus. "The installation of the solar photovoltaic system along parking lots 4 and 5 represents a very large step forward in our stewardship and sustainability commitment at West Valley College," she said. "It makes a statement that we are aligned in sustainability, aligned with the natural gifts that we've been given by being sited here."

Maduli said that with the solar project up and running, the college district will examine how to make the colleges more energy efficient. This includes looking at everything from interior and exterior lighting to HVAC systems.

West Valley College will celebrate the grand opening of its solar project at 12 p.m. Oct. 19.


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Peter Anning
Marketing & Public Relations
 
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