Bakersfield College plans on building another solar panel parking lot

David Portillo, Reporter

Bakersfield College is set to build another solar parking lot canopy structure. The Kern Community District has agreed to partner with solar company Forefront Power for the Solar and Battery Storage project that is placed for the next 20 years. The lot has been set to be completed within the next 18 months. The project is set to save Bakersfield College more than $2.7 million over the course of the set 20 years.

This new term is starting on Oct.10 and will run through Dec. 31, 2039. The cost that the district faces is more than $9.1 million. The project will give out about 2.6 megawatts of power, while the current solar panels give out about 1 megawatt.

According to Brian Taylor, ForeFront Power director of California Public Sector, ForeFront will construct a solar canopy in BC campus’ south parking lot, very similar to the solar lot on the school’s northeast side. Ground-mounted solar panels will be installed near the parking structure with batteries for energy storage. Taylor also explained, “We’re expecting it’ll provide 75 percent of the energy consumed campuswide.” The solar parking lot on the northeast side of Bakersfield College was installed in 2010 by SunPower Corporation.

Mike Giacomini, the vice president of finance and administrative services at Bakersfield College, explains that “one of the college’s goals is to be more sustainable, and there have been a variety of improvement projects and changes implemented to achieve that.” Also, Giacomini says that he has seen a significant drop in its electricity bills, but the school soon needed more than just one megawatt.

Giacomini believes that solar is just another way to reduce the college’s footprint. He also says that “some changes include installing artificial grass at memorial stadium to reduce water usage, utilizing drought-tolerant landscaping and swapping out paper towels with air dryers in bathrooms.” Giacomini also states that to add another 2.6 megawatts is “extremely advantageous helps sustain standpoints in not using sources that are finite.”

The next steps Bakersfield College needs to make is meeting with the solar company to finalize plans and have the designs approved by the state.

Bakersfield College is not the only school in Bakersfield to use solar panels. ForeFront Power worked with Bakersfield City School District in 2016 to install 1.7 megawatts of capacity at five school sites and later expanded to 2.3 megawatts of capacity at 10 schools.

The parking lot is expected to be completed in the next 18 months and looks to be a greener next step in Bakersfield College’s financial profits.