LA Community College Going Off the Grid

This news appears to be so new that the Los Angeles Community College District hasn't even posted a press release at the time of this writing. According to a CBS affiliate in LA, though, the nine-campus district announced a major commitment to renewable energy generation at the Solar Power 2006 conference yesterday: each campus will have a big enough solar panel array "...to make the campuses self-sufficient and take them 'off the power grid":

"Here in sunny Southern California, we are meeting our responsibility to generate as much solar energy as possible, and continuing to maintain our leadership in pursuing sustainability practices in higher education," Larry Eisenberg, executive director of facilities planning and development for the community college district said. "We believe that what today may seem futuristic can soon be commonplace."

The district plans to build enough solar energy cells to produce one megawatt of electricity at each of its colleges. One megawatt is enough to power 1,000 average California homes, according to the district. Each campus currently uses less than one megawatt of power.

District officials said they plan to eventually use excess electricity to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen, with the hydrogen being used at night to power campus fuel cells. The district also plans to build a renewable energy Central Plant and add "sustainability curriculum" at each campus.

While we've reported on numerous colleges and universities converting to renewable power through either on-site generation or "green tags" purchases, this may be the first time a higher education institution has planned to use clean energy as its sole source of power. LACC has just raised the bar... let's hope we see other campuses, and perhaps even other organizations, follow their lead. ::KCAL TV