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Sunny days ahead for PUSD small schools
[January 31, 2013]

Sunny days ahead for PUSD small schools

Jan 31, 2013 (The Porterville Recorder - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Porterville Unified School District Board of Directors are moving forward with the second phase of its solar project.

"From the very first year, the district would save an approximate $224,000. If these numbers hold true, from the first stand the district would not lose money," said Ken Gibbs, assistant superintendent business services during the Jan. 24 regular board meeting.

The combination of California Solar Initiative rebates and energy savings would be self-funding if there is enough savings and revenue to meet the repayment obligation, Gibbs said as he reported on preliminary numbers. The current design has a cost of $10.5 million and additional general fund savings, over 25 years, of $9.6 million.

SunPower's initial project proposal includes roof mounted, parking structure and ground mounted systems for several elementary and middle school sites.

In the plan are Los Robles, Olive Street, Roche, Monte Vista, Vandalia, West Putnam and Westfield elementary schools, as well as Bartlett and Sequoia middle schools.

Bartlett's proposal includes roof mounts, Santa Fe's is listed as a shaded parking lot proposal, and Sequoia Middle School listed as having both roof mounts and parking lot mounts.

The Los Robles site is planned is a large ground mount adjacent to the school and would generate enough credit for eight sites -- Belleview, Citrus, John J. Doyle, LB Hill, Pioneer Middle, the Prospect Ed Center, Vine Street, and the Porterville Unified School District.

"We own that land," Gibbs said about the proposed Los Robles site. "It would be very similar to what we have at Granite Hills and we can apply [generated power revenue] to up to 50 different meters across the district." In December, the board approved the district to begin the review of the second phase.

"We applied for, and have since received, an allocation of $15 million of Qualified Zone Academy Bonds for this purpose," Gibbs said. "We have been working closely with our previous contractor, SunPower, to develop a design that fits the needs of our sites." Plans are tentative, Gibbs said, and if approved, more information, finalization designs of the project and contracts would be provided at a future board meeting.

But the first step in the process is to reserve solar rebates from the CSI program, something that comes with an estimated $50,000 reservation fee that would be reimbursed once the district moves forward with the project. If the board did not approve the recommendation, the rebates will not last and the district will lose an opportunity, Gibbs said.

The board, minus Sharon Gill who was absent, voted unanimously to move forward with the second phase of the district's solar project.

Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.

___ (c)2013 The Porterville Recorder (Porterville, Calif.) Visit The Porterville Recorder (Porterville, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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