Sunday, April 22, 2012

South City Schools Go Solar

A drumroll and countdown preceded the ceremonial flip of switch Friday afternoon at Westborough Middle School to showcase the new solar and energy efficiency upgrades to South San Francisco schools.
Heather Murtagh/Daily Journal The South San Francisco
Unified School District Board of Trustees flip the switch
during the solar power and energy efficiency project
dedication ceremony at Westborough Middle School
in South San Francisco Friday afternoon.

The South San Francisco Unified School District celebrated its $13 million project Friday. Expected to reduce the district’s utility costs by $20 million over the next 25 years, the project includes solar panels at 15 elementary, middle and high school sites throughout the district. Overall, the systems are expected to produce 1.68 megawatts of electricity, cutting the district’s electricity use in half, said Teresa Mayer, CFO and director of finance for Chevron Energy Solutions, which partnered with the district on the project.

“Harnessing the power of the sun helps make our schools more environmentally sustainable, cuts their energy bills, and creates thousands of teachable moments for our students,” said California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. “That’s a win-win-win proposition, for our schools and for California.”

Funded through Measure J funds, a $162 million bond measure approved by voters in November 2010, the project will result in cost savings. That boost will directly support school programs, said board President Judy Bush.

South San Francisco Superintendent Alejandro Hogan said the work will not only allow the district to reduce its carbon footprint but also provide new education opportunities for students.

In addition to solar panels, the district included upgrades to the heating and lighting system to help cut usage.

South San Francisco is the third local district to go live with solar panels.

In September, the San Mateo Union High School District held a ceremony for its $31.5 million solar project on six school sites which corresponded with Torlakson’s release of the statewide Schools of the Future Report. The 89-page document outlines plans to support efforts to make schools sustainable, a statewide bond measure to offer seed money and greater opportunities for students to learn about emerging green technologies because of the on-site technology.

In October, the San Bruno Park School District debuted its $7.2 million solar project including upgrades to the roofs to support the system. Unlike the other projects, which used bond funds, San Bruno used $5.3 million in clean renewable energy bonds. The district contributed $1.9 million from the proceeds of selling the Carl Sandburg school site in 2005 for $30.5 million.


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