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The Green Life: Butte College Feeds the Grid

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June 29, 2011

Butte College Feeds the Grid

Electricity Grid The only thing better than fleeing the grid is feeding the grid. And America now has its first college to contribute renewable energy to its community. Butte College, in Oroville, California, today celebrated the installment of its new solar array, made of 25,000 individual panels and expected to reap more sustainable energy — 6.5 million kilowatt-hours per year — than the school can use. Administrators plan to sell the excess back to the grid, saving up to $75 million per year. While many houses have been already built to be grid-positive (Boston's mayor recently announced a goal to create 10 grid-positive houses on city-owned land), Butte's one of the very first large institutions to do so. 

Off-gridding, on the other hand, has long enjoyed a niche popularity — but is becoming more and more mainstream. There are those like Doug Fine, a reporter turned rancher who bought his goats off Craigslist (but refuses to give up Netflix) and others, idealists who purge themselves of all technology. But there is also the urban couple, happy to harvest energy in the middle of a city block. And everyone in between has increasing resources, like DIY books and expert advice. to make their lives carbon neutral.

Maybe Butte’s grid-positivity can charge public institutions to keep pace with the people.

--Juliana Hanle

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