Campbell Union High School District began its efforts to integrate solar power into its campuses in 1999 with the first round of school modernization.
Wednesday, the district celebrated its success with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Prospect High School.
"It’s outstanding," said Saratoga Mayor Chuck Page of the project. "Parking lots are a great place for this use."
Solar power is a key element for the district that spent $900,000 a year in electricity, a district press release stated.
Chevron proposed to install a 3.7 megawatt solar system at the district's properties for more than $34 million but the district board of trustees knew they could do better.
"The Board of Trustees took a bold step to develop their own plans and we were confident enough to take that risk," said Campbell Union High School District Superintendent Patrick Gaffney. "It’s an innovative way to approach this."
The move brought the district together with Mark Bartos of Bartos Architecture and Enviroplex, a solar panel manufacturer and installer. With this move, the district saved $16.6 million and as a caveat in the contract now owns the copyright to a set of plans.
"Not only are we saving money and putting it back into the general fund, it also marks an opportunity for other cities, schools and counties to put those types of structures on their campuses as well," Gaffney said.
And as a result of owning the plans to the project, the district will be able to generate revenue by selling them to other school districts and cities interested in duplicating the projects and that money will go toward the Campbell Union High School District Scholarship Fund.
"This is great for students," Gaffney said. "I applaud them (the board) for taking the risk."
Campbell Union School District Board of Trustees President Rick Costanzo said that the board had been enthusiastic about the project from the beginning.
"It will not only save the district $765,000 in energy costs each year but also help provide scholarships for students," Costanzo said. "I see this as a win-win in all respects for our students and community."