Tucson Unified Top K-12 Solar Producer in Arizona in 2021
With over 80 solar energy sites across the district, Tucson Unified is one of the largest on-site solar generation projects at a K-12 school system in the nation. Since 2014, we have saved an estimated $6.9 million and provided educational and recreational opportunities.
Learn how a solar panel garden and a playground contribute to student success by watching:
On October 17, 2018, Mayor Rothschild and leaders from TUSD joined local developer Urban Energy Solutions and Constellation, an Exelon company and a leading retail energy supplier, to celebrate the completion of a 23.8-megawatt (DC) solar generation project. The project, the largest of its kind among K-12 school districts in Arizona to date, is expected to account for 47 percent of TUSD's annual electricity use.
"I am very proud of the District's commitment over the last five years to install the solar arrays at our schools and facilities. They not only produce energy to run our schools while reducing our carbon footprint, they also provide wonderful shaded areas for our playgrounds and parking areas," said Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, TUSD Superintendent.
Located on shade canopies across 82 school campuses and support facilities, the solar arrays are expected to produce 41.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity and prevent the release of nearly 31,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. The avoided emissions have the same benefit to the environment as taking more than 6,600 cars off the road, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
The project required no upfront capital from TUSD, which will purchase the electricity generated by the more than 73,000 photovoltaic panels through 20-year solar services agreements with Constellation.
"Constellation is committed to increasing access to clean energy solutions," said Brendon Quinlivan, executive director, Distributed Energy Origination for Constellation. "We congratulate TUSD on leading a growing list of K-12 school customers who are choosing to support renewable solar generation projects while managing energy costs."
The project was completed in three phases over five years in collaboration with TUSD, Constellation, and developer Urban Energy Solutions. Each phase and individual solar project site was designed to maximize cost savings while also providing shade for several parking areas and playgrounds.
"Our team is grateful for the opportunity to develop these utility cost-savings projects for TUSD while also empowering the District’s environmental initiatives," said John Mitman, director, Engineering and Development for Urban Energy Solutions. "TUSD has earned the right to be proud of its environmental stewardship through supporting these solar energy projects."
TUSD and Constellation celebrated the project's completion with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 17, 2018, at Dietz K-8 School. Following the celebration, Dietz students participated in hands-on solar experiments designed to demonstrate how solar generation works and showcase the benefits of renewable energy.