California School District Employs Solar Panels in Parking Lots to Cut Costs

As a lead in solar power technology, California often institutes environmental policies and energy reduction endeavors before the rest of the country. In San Francisco, solar carports have been popping up in parking lots everywhere: they serve to both shield cars from the sun and generate solar power.
solasadf.jpgThe solar carports are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the Bay area, especially in school parking lots. Essentially, solar panels are constructed over parking spaces so they shield cars from the sun's rays and collect the solar energy for conversion into electricity. The Milpitas Unified School District, for example, relies on the carports for nearly 75 percent of its electricity needs during an entire school year.

The carports are catching on. John Cimino, director of maintenance, operations and transportation for the district, asserts that he receives inquiries about the solar power invention "from Hawaii, from Canada, from all over California." The systems, he affirms, save the district money every year in lowered electricity bills and cost schools little because they work with energy companies and banks to finance the projects: the backers collect tax incentives and sell the energy back the schools at fixed or decreased rates.

Over the next 20 years, the school district estimates that the photovoltaic systems will save millions of dollars. They will most likely spur varying versions across the state and beyond as their early success is evident.
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