March 24, 2003 Vol. VII, No. 13

The new solar panels project at Cal State Northridge is one of the largest among California public universities.

Solar Project Provides Parking Shade and Energy Savings

New Solar Installation in Student Parking Lot E6 is Among the Largest at California Public Universities

Cal State Northridge has completed one of the largest solar electric installations among California public universities, more than 3,000 solar panels that provide shade for student cars while also expected to save the campus more than $50,000 annually in energy costs.

The $1.8 million photovoltaic project stems from a partnership between the universityıs Physical Plant Management Department, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), the Southern California Gas Co. and Camarillo-based Shell Solar Industries, a local subsidiary of global energy provider Shell Group.

During the campus dedication ceremony for the new facility on Wednesday, Feb. 26, officials from DWP and The Gas Co. presented the university with incentive checks totaling more than $1.6 million.

"For the past two decades, Northridge has been very active in seeking new and innovative technologies to reduce its energy bills," said Mo Qayoumi, CSUNıs vice president of administration and finance. "This project is a good example of the universityıs commitment to promoting environmentally friendly technologies, supporting energy conservation and reducing its energy costs."

Qayoumi added, "The project also represents an excellent example of the collaborative work between the academic and administrative divisions of the university, namely our College of Engineering and Computer Science and Physical Plant Management, as well as a model partnership between DWP, the Southern California Gas Co., Shell Solar Industries and CSUN."

The 3,024 Shell solar modules are doubling as shading in student parking lot E6 at the north end of the main campus south of Halsted Street, just east of the Art and Design Center. The panels can generate 75 watts of power each, producing a peak capacity of 225 kilowatts.

Photovoltaic cells in the panels absorb the sunıs rays, creating direct current power that is directed to a substation and ultimately fed into a power grid that distributes electricity throughout the campus.

In addition to saving energy, the use of photovoltaic cells is easing the campusı impact on the environment. According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, using 225 kilowatts of photovoltaic power reduces carbon emissions by an amount equal to an average passenger car driving 722,181 miles.

Chester Farris, senior vice president of Shell Solar, said solar is a logical choice for Cal State Northridge. "Solar energy makes sense. Shell solar modules are warranted for 25 years of pollution-free power production and they are made right here in Los Angeles," Farris said.

Angelina Galiteva, DWP executive director of Green L.A. programs, said "The installation of this newest solar system marks another step toward a cleaner environment in Los AngelesŠ. The savings realized by the university will allow more funds to be directed to educational and student programs."

The project also provided a team of CSUN engineering students an opportunity to use the skills they learned in the classroom. "Itıs probably been the greatest opportunity Iıve had so far in school," said Josh Gallo, a junior electrical engineering major who served as the project manager.

"I was able to apply what I learned in the classroom to a real-world situation. In the classroom, you deal with numbers and a lot of math. But working on this project I really learned what it takes to get something built and how to deal with all sorts of people," Gallo said.

CSUN is considered a leader in energy conservation among universities across the country. The university was hailed two years ago by the Clean Air Coalition for its use of alternative energy. In 2001, the campus installed six micro turbines through a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and DWP as another energy-saving measure.

@csun | February 10, 2003 issue
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