California's Butte College hits first in the nation solar milestone

Colleges and universities are hot spots for renewable energy installation and experimentation. From on-site energy generation to educational programs designed to train students for clean energy careers, schools are right up there with start-ups in terms of pushing renewable technology towards mainstream use. Last week, a community college district in Northern California set a new standard for renewable energy use in higher education, though: Butte College became the first “grid positive” school in the nation.

What’s that mean? In short, the two-year school now produces more energy than it consumes… and can sell the excess back to the local power company. The college reached this goal through solar panel installations: 25,000 of them. No doubt that represents a pretty sizable investment, but its one the school believes will pay off in the long run: it expects to save between $50 to $75 million over the next 15 years.

Solar power isn’t the only sustainability initiative at Butte: the campus itself is located on a 900+ acre wildlife refuge, operates the largest community college transportation system in the state (in addition to a private rideshare system) , and recycles over 75% of its waste stream.

Impressive! Familiar with Butte College? Share your thoughts and stories with us…


Image credit: Butte College