Six colleges and universities surrounding Citrus College have solar panels installed either in parking lots or on top of their buildings. Citrus has also started exploring development plans.
“Citrus College has evaluated the feasibility of a solar project and is currently developing a request for proposal for solar photovoltaic procurement,” Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Claudette Dain said.
Citrus contracted with Newcomb Anderson McCormick in 2016 to conduct a solar feasibility study and provide recommendations to the college, Dain said
The results of the study were shared with the College’s Physical Resources Committee and the committee took action by developing a RFP for SP.
“The actual cost for having solar panels in one of our parking lots is in the $1 million to $2 million dollar range by estimate for the recommended ground mount and parking lot shade structures,” Dain said.
An RFP request for proposal for SP is the process of finding product or service requirements of a renewable energy project, contract terms and bidding for the project, as stated on the Environmental Protection Agency website.
“I am interested in conserving energy,” Citrus student Mayuko Sugimura said. “I think having solar panels can help the environment.”
Mt. San Antonio College is one of the colleges in the area with solar panels. Mt. SAC’s “More Sustainability; An Agenda for Increasing Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Practices” by political science professors James Stone and Jerry Allen states the college has saved about $780,000 by reducing its peak energy usage.
The Citrus College Sustainability Plan states the college wants to create sustainable building practices. Sustainable building practices are the construction and renovation of buildings is supposed to “provide a significant opportunity to reduce the environmental impacts of the built environment.”
Energy efficiency and sustainability is addressed early in the planning and design phases to maximize cost effectiveness.
Many of Citrus College’s buildings have energy-saving features and use appliance power-saving modes on computers and many of its energy saving equipments.
This is done to meet its sustainability goals without having solar panels.
Citrus has energy management systems to provide recording and control of the college campus energy related activities and in recent years has provided energy efficient lighting as stated by the sustainability plan made by the committee on August 2012.
On April 3, 2012 the Citrus College Board of Trustees made a commitment to improve college sustainability by adopting the Sustainability Mission Statement.
“Citrus College will promote an active learning and participatory environment, where students, faculty and staff are immersed in quality education and collaborate with peers and industry professionals to encourage and create sustainability awareness and social responsibility, thereby fostering the advancement of sustainable practices and conservation of resources for the college proper, community and nation as a whole,” the mission statement states.
The plan has saved the college 1.6 million kilowatts per hour. One kilowatt per hour is the equivalent of running a 1,000 watt light bulb for an hour.
“The college has implemented numerous college-wide energy efficiency practices and has performed a number of energy efficiency upgrade projects,” Dain said.
In the sustainability plan Citrus focuses on three main goals: economic return on investment, energy efficiency and the built environment.
The built environment goal is to “construct all major capital projects to meet LEED silver ‘equivalent’ standard with goals to reduce energy and water use waste water discharges and sustainable building practices.”
The goal for energy efficiency is to reduce overall campus energy consumption by 6 percent within two years, as stated in the sustainability plan.
Schools that use solar panels save money on overall costs that the school would normally use electricity to operate with.
“Solar energy cuts overall operating costs for schools that use solar panels,” Luke Richardson of EnergySage wrote in an article titled “2017 Costs and Benefits of Solar Panels for schools.”
Richardson said over the past decade, electricity prices have been rising and the cost of energy is expected to increase over time.
The increase has the potential to make it difficult for schools to make plans and budget for the future.
Citrus expends $1.1 million annually to Southern California Edison for energy consumption including lighting and air conditioning, Dain said.
Citrus student Anthony Beas has empathy for Citrus.
“I suppose it’s a little bit of a sad thing but if the funding isn’t available, I understand that it is hard and it is expensive to have solar panels,” he said.