Chaffey Goes Solar

 Chaffey's Board breaks first ground on the Solar Project. Photo by Duane Tkatch.

Chaffey's Board breaks first ground on the Solar Project. Photo by Duane Tkatch.

Construction for photovoltaic panels, also known as solar panels, has officially started at the Rancho Chaffey campus on Monday, Aug. 28. As one of the largest solar projects at any California community college, it is expected to significantly reduce electricity and energy usage, carbon emission and promote an overall fiscally-responsible environment.

At a welcoming event on Aug. 24, Chaffey Vice President of Administrative Affairs, Melanie Siddiqi stated, “It’s the right thing to do for our community and it’s certainly the right thing to do for the environment.”

Solar energy works by absorbing sunlight into smaller cells made up of silicon between two protective glass sheets. While one side of silicon is negatively charged attracting photons, the positive charge generates energy into “direct current electricity” (DIC). The DIC is transformed into an alternating current that replicates traditional electricity and produces the same results. Excess electricity is saved into an internal panel and reused. As a result, the Solar Project will generate more than 90 percent of its own electricity.

According to Saddiqi, the energy savings is expected to have a ten million dollar positive net benefit within its 25-year life expectancy.

The plan was approved in May 2017 and funded in June with a budget of $17,157,257. Out of six possible stakeholders, Borrego Solar Systems was ultimately chosen to construct the project. The San Diego-based company was selected based on qualifications, response, accuracy, prices and overall ability to perform.

“Our teams trust one another and this had made all the difference,” said Cameron Thorne, project developer for Borrego Solar Inc.

Solar panels were originally intended for secluded locations such as traffic signs and telephone posts. Due to a recent increase of popularity in the U.S., many have been incorporated into schools, homes and businesses. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “they now make up 99 percent of the global solar market.”

Construction will naturally impact student parking. In order to ensure student accessibility, Chaffey’s faculty staff members have offered their designated parking lots to Chaffey students at the Rancho Campus.

The project will range from two to four months beginning Aug. 28 at the Rancho campus. Lots 5, 6, 11, 18E, 18W, 19E and 19W will be affected. Construction will begin in September for the Fontana campus and October at the Chino campus.