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Buellton School District Solar Project Generates $75,000 in Energy Savings in First Year

The Board of Trustees of the Buellton Union School District learned at their November board meeting that the new solar systems installed at the district’s two school sites saved the district $75,000 during the first year of operation.

This savings is consistent with the projected energy savings in the initial analysis conducted prior to the board’s approval of the solar project.

As Superintendent Bryan McCabe reported to the board, “These savings will only increase as energy costs rise in future years.”

In his written report to the board, he shared that over the next 30 years, the annual utility savings are expected to average $127,726 for a total utility savings of $3.8 million.

The solar project was funded by Measure V2012, a $3.2 million general obligation bond passed by district voters in June 2012. The ballot language in Measure V2012 stated that the funds would be used for several projects related to facility and equipment improvements for the two district schools — Oak Valley Elementary School and Jonata Middle School.

The solar system consists of photovoltaic panels on parking lot carports at the two schools. The total cost of the two systems was $1.6 million. The independent Performance and Financial Analysis conducted prior to the project estimated the cash flow payback for the systems would be achieved in 18 years.

Construction was completed and the systems were activated at both schools in October 2013. PG&E provides an annual analysis called the “True-Up” for the period October 2013 to September 2014. The report shows that the district paid only $250 for electricity for both school sites during the 12-month period. In the prior year, the electricity cost for the district totaled $75,000.

The district appreciates the support of the community in passing Measure V2012, and sees the solar project as not only a significant savings to the district’s annual operating budget, but a model for the students and community on providing sources of renewable energy sources and energy savings in general. More information on the solar project, including real-time reports on the solar projects’ generation of electricity and energy savings, can be found at the district’s website by clicking here.

— Terri Schrepel represents the Buellton Union School District.

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