A Fresno school made history today by becoming the first in the city to operate "solely" on solar power.
Although the official dedication ceremony was Thursday morning, the solar project at Adventist Academy in east central Fresno actually became fully operational last month.
The academy is joining a growing a number of schools who are harnessing the power of the sun to cut down on their energy bills and pollution.
The project is called “Sun Harvest” and it uses 3,396 solar panels on 2.2 acres to generate 247 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power the entire school.
Principal Dan Kittle said, “It is an honor for us to participate in our community by having an energy system that contributes to clean air.”
Kittle has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
Two years ago the school partnered with enXco, a company that specializes in renewable energy systems, to become one of the first to utilize a new thin film solar technology.
“It is our hope that by our example that other organizations will take similar steps here in the Valley,” Kittle said.
EnXco representative David Kirkpatrick shares that hope.
He believes the Central Valley holds endless possibilities for renewable energy.
“We are very excited about the potential to replicate what we've done here and we’re trying to bring more and more renewable energy to the valley,” Kirkpatrick said.
Renewable energy is something PG&E is also excited about.
They're trying to encourage the use of solar power through the California Solar Initiative, a ten year, $2.1 billion incentive program for existing commercial, industrial and agriculture properties.
Through the program Adventist Academy was awarded $615,000 in incentives.
But the project’s rewards go beyond dollars and cents.
The new way of looking at energy is also making an impact with students.
“It makes us aware of what the world will be like in a few years and I’m happy we could make this world a better place,” said Academy student Caitlin Cuenca.
The Fresno County Economic Development Commission attended the dedication.
They said that with this project, as well as solar projects at Fresno State, the Yosemite International Airport and the Fresno Fairgrounds, the central valley is well on its way to becoming a “solar valley”.
Click on the video link to watch Lindsey Pena’s report.