Harvesting Sun Power with West’s New Solar Structure

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Visitors, students and staff to the High School West’s campus can now park under a new clean energy solar parking structure, which officially went live to produce electricity in May. The district held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the conclusion of the project on June 9.

The new solar installation brings the benefits of carports, a cost-effective and innovative way to generate power to the Smithtown Central School District. The solar carport will significantly reduce the overall electricity bill for the district, with the money saved being reinvested in educational programs. The solar project will also provide an educational opportunity for the students, while also helping the environment.

The surface used for the solar carports will produce clean energy and actively lower energy costs. The system was installed by Sunrise Power Solutions and is the largest solar carport system owned by a school district in New York State. “This is a popular option among the K-12 municipal industry as money saved from lower energy bills can be directly reallocated back into education,” said Kristian Ingebrigtsen, CEO of Sunrise Power Solutions.

The project has a total size of 2.06 MW and an estimated annual output of 2.726 KWH. According to Michael Volts, director of energy efficiency and renewables at PSEG Long Island, the energy produced by the system will offset the entire energy usage at Smithtown High School West and the excess energy credits will be used to offset the usage at 11 other district-owned buildings.

“PSEG Long Island commends the Smithtown School District for participating in this energy performance project, which will save the community money and help create a cleaner, healthier future for its students and all of Long Island,” Voltz explained. “The more than 26,000 LED lighting fixtures and bulbs they installed will lower their energy usage, helping to reap the maximum benefits from the new solar carport systems and making them eligible to receive PSEG Long Island energy efficiency lighting rebates that lowered the cost of the project.”

Built under an energy performance contract with Johnson Controls, who led the project, the carport features 5.422 JA Solar panels and 30 SML Sunny Tripower Core1 inverters with a monitoring system. There are 10 separate carport canopy structures, along with two Leviton car charging stations. According to the EPA, this solar system will offset the greenhouse gas emissions from 416 passenger cars driven for one year or 2,124,073 pounds of coal burned.