Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 11:08 am | Fair 57º


San Marcos High to Go Solar, If School Board Approves $5.5 Million Project

Measure Q bond funds could be used to install 1,600 solar panels, estimated to save the district $4 million over 25 years

San Marcos High School might go solar, with the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Education considering whether to install nearly 1,600 photovoltaic panels to cut down on the school’s electric bill and bring in energy rebates.

The board heard a presentation Tuesday night and will decide later whether to move ahead with the project.

Measure Q bond funds could be used for the $5.5 million project, and the district could pull in $4 million in savings with smaller electric bills and rebates over 25 years, staff with PMSM Architects said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Project costs would include $3.1 million for the solar panels and the rest for roofing improvements that San Marcos needs anyway, but would have to be done before panels are installed, according to facilities director David Hetyonk.

PMSM Architects conducted a study and recommends that the district use roof panels instead of parking canopies like those in the Hope Elementary District.

Hope has 936 panels among its three schools and paid for the $2 million project with funds from Measure L, a general obligation bond measure.

According to Hetyonk, panels on San Marcos rooftops would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12,800 tons and have a small visual impact on the school’s campus.

“I’m excited because we’d be spending capital money to save general fund money — and we get to be green,” he said.

Fixing San Marcos’ roofs, HVAC systems and electrical infrastructure are on the board’s priority list for bond funds, but solar panels are not.

The price tag — especially since the district has held only one sale for the bond funds so far — made some board members nervous Tuesday since there are some drastic needs throughout the district with that money.

Member Monique Limon said that although the facilities bonds are meant to be used with districtwide priorities, there should be some equity between sites.

Member Annette Cordero said the board shouldn’t just fund whatever proposed projects come up first, and should be careful not to pass up top priorities.

“We have to think about what project this takes money from,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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