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Cal Poly solar array set to break ground

A solar array set to break ground on the west side of Cal Poly’s campus this summer will be the largest in the state school system.

It may not look like much now, but an 18.5-acre sheep pasture on the west side of campus bordering the California Men’s Colony will soon be the home of a massive solar farm.

16,000 panels will be installed on the plot, generating enough electricity to power 1000 homes, or about 25 percent of all the electricity used on campus.

“I am very pleased and excited that this project is moving forward,” says Dennis Elliot, the Director of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability at the college. “It is part of our responsibility in facilities to be responsible stewards of the environment.”

The construction costs will in the $8 million dollar range, but going solar is helping the environment and the school’s bottom line.

“We are currently estimating a 20-year life savings of the project at over $17 million dollars,” says Elliot.

The $8 million dollar contract has been awarded to REC Solar, one of the largest solar companies in the country. The company is based in San Luis Obispo and was started by two Cal Poly graduates more than 20 years ago.

“That connection obviously means a lot to us and the people at Cal Poly, but at the same time you’re getting a company that has worked on the national scale,” says Garrett Colburn, director of marketing for the solar giant.

The company will use panels that move as the sun crosses the sky, generating 30 percent more power than stationary units.

Developers hope to have the project completed by December 2017.

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