Public Sector


Contra Costa Community College District

Contra Costa Community College District

The Opportunity

Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) operates three colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. The district leaders embarked on an energy efficiency and solar program aimed at making its facilities more reliable, efficient and easier to manage, while reducing costs and exposure to utility price fluctuations.

The Partnership

CCCCD selected OpTerra Energy Services to design, engineer and construct solar power generating systems at its three colleges, as well as add energy infrastructure upgrades and energy management systems at CCCCD’s administrative office and colleges.

The comprehensive upgrades benefit the district by improving technological, environmental and fiscal elements. Overall, long-term energy costs are lowered by millions of dollars, and exposure to utility price volatility is lowered as well. Grid power purchases were reduced by 7.4 million kWh per year, enough to power approximately 1,200 homes. The district saw improved operations through energy management system controls and modern electrical equipment that functions more reliably.

The CCCCD community is experiencing the benefits of their improved learning, teaching, and workplace environments, including shaded daytime parking for more than 1,600 cars and improved parking lot lighting at night. Information became available to the campus community with solar information kiosks that were installed, providing real-time data on the production, conversion and electricity output at each campus.

The $35 million project was financed with $8.5 million in rebates and incentives. The remaining net amount of $26.7 million was supported by bonds, and recovered from annual costs savings, which are projected to be $70 million over 25 years.

The Impact

The partnership between OpTerra and CCCCD will result in saving the district more than $70 million over 25 years. Their facilities now generate 4 million kWh each year — up to 50% of peak electricity demand. District leaders have successfully accomplished their goal of energy-efficient facilities that are easier and less expensive to manage, all while achieving offsets production of about 5.6 million pounds of CO2 per year, or the equivalent to planting 636 acres of trees.

The Technical Scope

  • 3.2-MW solar power system, comprised of 18,000 PV panels on 34 parking canopies in six parking lots at all three colleges
  • High-efficiency lighting, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning equipment and energy management systems installed
  • High-voltage electrical system replacements for two colleges