Cal Poly building solar farm to power a quarter of campus

Cal Poly
Cal Poly jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Cal Poly will break ground this summer on a campus solar farm that will generate enough power to handle about 25 percent of the university’s needs and will save $17 million in utility bills over 20 years.

The farm, which is set to be built on property adjacent to Highway 1 and completed by year’s end, “will be financed, designed, constructed and maintained by REC Solar, one of the nation’s largest solar providers,” according to a university statement.

REC Solar was founded in San Luis Obispo in 1997 by Cal Poly graduates Judy Ledford and Fred Sisson.

The farm will span 18.5 acres, with more than 16,000 solar panels capable of generating a total of 11 million kilowatt-hours a year. That’s enough to power more than 1,000 homes, according to the university.

Cal Poly will buy the energy from REC Solar at a reduced rate.

The university said the solar farm also will provide educational opportunities for students, noting that “it will incorporate a solar engineering laboratory for students to conduct experiments with solar technology in a hands-on environment.”

The university’s Animal Science Department also will use the site to research vegetation management practices “while grazing the site with its sheep herd.”

This article has been updated to show the correct energy output of the solar farm.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler