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Solar farm under construction to power Cal Poly campus

REC Solar
Cal Poly's new solar farm is expected to save the university about $17 million over the next two decades.

San Luis Obispo's California Polytechnic University is installing a 4.5 megawatt solar farm. The farm is being constructed on 18 acres of agricultural land just northwest of the Cal Poly campus. Upon completion, the farm will generate nearly 25 percent of the university's total energy needs. 

REC Solar is the company in charge of the design and construction of the farm. Skyler Shipley, senior project manager for the Cal Poly solar farm, said his team is proud to take on a project that will reduce the community’s environmental impact.

“The modules track the sun, so by following the sun throughout the day, they can generate 20 percent more, on average, than a fixed-tilt system,” Shipley said.

Cal Poly signed on to a California State University system net zero sustainability plan, with a goal of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2040.

Dennis Elliot, Cal Poly’s Director of Energy, Utilities, and Sustainability said that the energy generated by the new solar farm will be a big step for the university in reaching its climate goals.

“Our environmental footprint is significant and requires careful management,” Elliot said.

The solar farm will also serve as an academic resource for students in a number of academic programs and applied research. Elliot said students can expect lab experiences to pop up in agriculture as well as in engineering.

The farm is expected to be completed by this winter.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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