SRVUSD moving forward with new solar projects

Officials: Added panels will nearly double solar production, save $16 million in energy costs

The San Ramon Valley school district is poised to expand its solar-energy program after the school board approved a contract with SunPower Corp. last week to add solar arrays at up to 16 schools with funding through tax-credit bonds.

District officials say the new solar panels are expected to nearly double the district's overall generation of solar energy and save the district more than $16 million in energy costs over 25 years.

The district's current solar program -- in place at all four comprehensive high schools and two middle schools -- has generated enough energy to power more than 2,200 homes for one year since its implementation in 2011 and is on track to save the district about $18 million in energy costs over 25 years, officials said.

"To have the opportunity to generate this amount of clean energy while putting savings of $34 million back into the budget is a wonderful thing for the environment and the educational program," Gary Black, assistant superintendent of facilities and operations, said in a statement.

For the newest set of solar projects, the district is looking to add solar panels at as many as 11 elementary schools and five middle schools through a combination of rooftop, parking lot and blacktop structures.

Most of the construction work will take place next summer, district officials said.

The school board on Tuesday approved a maximum $12.44 million contract with SunPower to design and build the solar panels.

To finance the effort, the district is in the process of selling approximately $13.2 million in clean renewable energy bonds. The federally authorized program allows for a net interest rate of less than 1%, according to district officials.

The schools on the project list include Bella Vista, Bollinger Canyon, Coyote Creek, Creekside, Green Valley, Greenbrook, Hidden Hills, John Baldwin, Live Oak, Quail Run and Tassajara Hills elementary schools.

The middle schools on tap are Iron Horse, Los Cerros, Pine Valley, Windemere Ranch and Charlotte Wood middle schools.

Over the 25-year period after implementation, SunPower guarantees the project to generate at least $16 million over and above the payback of the initial debt service, district officials said. The projection is based on 95% production, while actual savings is expected to be approximately 5% higher, they added.

As proposed, the new initiative would bring solar panels to more than half of the district's schools.

The district previously added solar arrays to California, Dougherty Valley, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley high schools, plus Diablo Vista and Gale Ranch middle schools, using funds from the sale of $25 million in qualified school construction bonds issued in 2010.

Those six systems generate a combined 3.5 megawatts of energy at peak production and have generated 27.26 gigawatts of power since implementation in September 2011, according to the district. The new projects are estimated to generate 3.36 megawatts during peak production.

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4 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2015 at 6:57 am

One word of caution. Many solar companies have 25 year guarantees and warranties. There's a catch though, none of them have even been in business that long and there is likely to be consolidation and failures (has anyone heard of Solyndra?). Therefore, if there are equipment failures or the project does not meet its objectives, I would not necessarily count on the installer or supplier to be around in 25 years to make good on their commitments.

5 people like this
Posted by Scare Tactics
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:05 am

Solyndra was a solar panel manufacturer that made non-conventional panels. That is a wildly improper comparison and is nothing more than a scare tactic.

Additionally, SunPower has been around since - wait for it - 1985. For those that might be mathematically challenged, that is well over 25 years. Turns out you can easily find out the answers to these basic questions by simply looking them up on the internet - no need to spout off unsupported statements in an effort to drum up ignorant support.

I applaud the school district both for its investment in the district's future fiscal stability and the environmental impact this project will have.

4 people like this
Posted by Xin Han
a resident of Blackhawk
on Dec 14, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Excellent news .. perfect timing to show we are doing our part as the climate change conference wrapped up in Paris.

3 people like this
Posted by San Ramon resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 14, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Another way to address the return on investment and reduce the angst over companies remaining in business over a long period of time would be simply to report the date by which the original investment is expected to be repaid through savings. Although it doesn't provide a large dollar figure to "sell" the idea, it does provide a reasonable way to gauge the viability of the project. Then, a further statement could be added with the projected system life and estimated lifetime savings and each reader could assess individually the validity to assign to the numbers provided.

4 people like this
Posted by mjp
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Simply fabulous news! SunPower is a strong company.

2 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Dec 15, 2015 at 10:47 am

And it's clean energy.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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