San Jose, Calif.-based Cupertino Electric, Inc.'s Energy Alternatives Division recently announced that it has begun the design and engineering phase of a 1MW solar photovoltaic (PV) system for the Petaluma Joint Union High School District, Petaluma, Calif. The 1MW Cupertino Electric-designed solar system will comprise two smaller systems mounted on canopies at the Casa Grande High School and Petaluma High School campuses.

“We are excited to partner with Cupertino Electric to use solar energy to decrease our energy costs and focus more of our scarce resources to support students,” said Steve Bolman, deputy superintendent for business Services for Petaluma City Schools. “Thanks to federal and state initiatives and competitive financing options, we can ensure that the money we spend on students increases, as our energy costs continue to decrease.”

The design phase of the District’s solar system is expected to be completed by the end of summer before construction begins on the system in the Fall of 2010. A 675kW system will be installed on canopies at the Casa Grande High School campus and a 385kW system will be installed on canopies at the Petaluma High School campus for a total solar system size of 1MW. The Petaluma Joint Union High School District solar project, with installation and financing contracts overseen by TerraVerde Renewable Partners (TVRP), is one of many recent public solar projects undertaken by Cupertino Electric’s Energy Alternatives Division.

“We are excited to help the Petaluma High School District generate enough solar energy over a 20-year period to offset the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 4,302 passenger vehicles,” said John Curcio, VP of Cupertino Electric, Inc. “Not only will the local community benefit from the collective reduction in greenhouse gases, but the district’s students will also benefit from the educational opportunities associated with the solar project.”

In addition to renewable energy benefits, TVRP is hosting a faculty workshop to help educators at both high schools integrate solar into the schools’ math, science, construction and drafting curricula. CEI and TVRP are also supporting a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)-funded electric vehicle/bike charging station at the Casa Grande site by providing the electrical labor and materials necessary to install the charging station at no additional cost.