Feature

District Solar Project Drags Into Second Half Of School Year

By Kiara Kunnes, Staff Writer

// The Acalanes High School District (AUHSD) solar panel project is currently three months behind schedule at each of the four schools in the district.

   The solar panels were previously expected to start generating energy by December 31, 2016. However, according to Principal Travis Bell, due to a mistake regarding the foundation on the contractor’s part, the project is currently expected to be finished by mid-March or April.

    “There are delays at every site. When you are trying to build things in tandem, a lot of times what occurs at one location will occur at others as well,” district facilities manager Dave Humphrey said. “These are the kind of delays one can expect.”

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Construction has been going on for numerous months since summer. (Photo by Annika Walker)

   The district originally was expected to save $175,400 in one year at all four campuses, but as a result of the delay the district is expecting to save approximately $5,000 to $6,000 less from the expected amount this year. However, the exact decrease from the expected amount is currently difficult to determine.

   “We are  in the dead of winter, so we are not getting a lot of sun anyways currently. It is hard to determine [how much we are going to save],” Humphrey said.

   Although there were some setbacks in the construction of the solar carports, the project appears to be back on track.

   “[The contractors] did receive extensions from PG&E as well as the solar program, so right now there are no issues with regard to the solar panels themselves and the company,” Humphrey said.

   After the construction is finished, power supplier SolarCity is expected to maintain the solar panels for the next 20 years as a result of a power purchase agreement, which was approved by the AUHSD governing board in June of 2015.

   “[SolarCity] is obligated to make sure the panels receive a certain amount of source as well as cleaning,” said Humphrey. “They will check on the power source every other week.”

   According to Humphrey, SolarCity will also be able to receive information regarding how much energy each solar panel is producing daily as a result of monitors being attached to every solar panel.

   The the last steps before solar power integration are currently be finished, according to Associate Principal Andy Briggs.

   “They should be basically done installing the bollards, and they are finishing up patching out there,”said Briggs. “We are really looking forward to them being done.”

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