POMONA With grid energy costs rising, institutions like Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona are installing solar energy systems on their properties for cheaper, reliable energy.
The medical school and Washington Gas Energy Systems Inc. recently unveiled a new 672-kilowatt system, mounted on the university’s Health Sciences Center, Health Professions Center, and the Banfield Veterinary Clinical Center. Solar panels have also been mounted on top of two carports at the university.
The project is expected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by the university.
“This project is a big step forward for us toward being a more green campus and being as environmentally friendly as we can be,” said university spokesman Jeff Keating.
Western University Founding President Dr. Philip Pumerantz said he’s pleased with the vision of the project.
“This is such a good opportunity for us to be able to enhance what we are doing,” Pumerantz said in a statement. “This helps our university develop the right form of energy to help us fulfill our mission.”
The university’s solar energy system is expected to generate about 1,110 megawatt-hours of solar energy annually. The renewable energy project was calculated to be the equivalent of taking about 160 cars off the road annually, Greenberg said.
“We know that major investments like renewable energy are of the utmost importance,” said Nate Greenberg, business development manager for Washington Gas Energy Systems, in a statement. “Our hope is that other universities and other entities, other nonprofits and businesses throughout California really follow Western U’s example and help work with us and our partners to increase the use of renewable energy in the state and across the country.”
The project was developed by Green Energy Partners. The renewable energy firm Conergy managed the engineering, procurement and construction of the project.
“It’s really to help in summer,” said Todd Clark, executive director of facilities for Western. “We have big demand during the day, which is when the rates are the highest. In summer, the rates go up substantially. As you use more power, the rates get more expensive. Hopefully this keeps us from having higher rates.”
Clark said the new system would save the university $2 million over 20 years.
“We pay the investor for the power at a lower rate than Edison, but as time goes on, as Edison’s rates go up, and the solar rates stay stable, that’s when we get more savings,” Clark said. “Edison’s rates have gone up quite a bit. If they go up the way they’re going, we’ll save even more.”