Newsletter No. 12


Today, Occidental's 1 MW solar array is 9 years old.  Since "first-light," on March 4th, 2013, the array has produced 16.20 GWh of electrical energy, 12.1% of the college's usage over the same time period.

Good Morning Occidental!

Today, Occidental's 1 MW solar array is 9 years old.  Since "first-light," on March 4th, 2013, the array has produced 16.20 GWh of electrical energy, 12.1% of the college's usage over the same time period.

In the last year the array produced 1.75 GWh of electrical energy, about 3% below our average of 1.80 GWh.  We had some sub-par performance in the early spring of 2021 and some inverter problems just this last month but, really, nothing too unusual. It may be that we are beginning to see some degradation in the performance of the panels.  But at 0.3% per year we are well below the industry average of 0.5% per year.  Time will tell.

On the financial side of things, our electrical bills have been lower due to the energy generated by the solar array.  Over the last year the solar array saved the college $314k, our second best year for savings with increasing electricity prices compensating for lost production.  To date the array has saved the college $2.5M on an investment of $3.35M.  Accounting for lost investment opportunities (endowment) the payback period for the array is now 17 years.  This estimate is up 2 years from last year due to an astoundingly good showing for our endowment in FY21.  We are now more than halfway through paying for the array.

In 2016 I zoomed out a little to look at what was going on in the world with renewable energy.  This year I decided to look at what is going on in the US.  To make this a little more interactive I put together a quiz.  I hope you enjoy it.