Solar Panels at Cabrillo High School to Save LBUSD $2M in Electricity Bills


Photo courtesy of LBUSD

More than 2,500 solar panels have been installed atop newly constructed carports at Cabrillo High School in West Long Beach, the Long Beach Unified School District announced last week. The 805-kilowatt system–along with all installation and ongoing maintenence costs–were placed by SolarCity, the country’s largest solar company, and are expected to save the district $2M in utility bills over the next 25 years.

According to the Power Purchase Agreement executed between SolarCity and LBUSD, the panels allow LBUSD to pay lower rates for solar electricity than it now pays for utility power, a move that prevents rate hikes from affecting the school’s energy costs. 

“The benefits of solar power will continue to multiply over time as the agreement for the solar power is at a fixed rate with no escalation to the initial kilowatt hour pricing,” said Jim Cahill, Southern California Regional Vice President for SolarCity.

LBUSD is already a leader in energy efficiency, with all schools earning Energy Star Certifications from both the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Cabrillo’s panels are the third solar installation for the district. The first was at Millikan High School using a science grant and the second was a roof-top thin-film installation at the new McBride High School, which opened last fall.

“More school districts are using sunshine to reduce utility costs and increase their use of clean energy,” said LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser. “This solar project builds upon our efforts to be good stewards of both the environment and taxpayer dollars.”

Long Beach City College also installed 2,100 solar panels atop a new parking structure in 2011. The project was funded by Measure E bonds and is expected to pay for itself in the next decade or so. 

Eds. note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said that the solar panels were donated by SolarCity when they were actually installed per a Power Purchase Agreement in which SolarCity retains ownership of the panels, but installs and maintains them with no cost to LBUSD.

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.