Mt. Diablo Unified’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship and resource conservation and management has been a prominent focus of the Measure C approved in 2010, which has provided for a district-wide solar program, and the use of high-efficiency and low-flow fixtures throughout the District.
The District’s solar program involved the installation of ground-mounted and/or parking structures at 51 sites, creating one of the largest K-12 district installations in the country, and generating more than 11 megawatts of clean energy annually. To date, the solar program has helped reduce the District’s utility bill by approximately 91%, an approximate savings of $17.2 million in General Fund monies.
Our Site Solar Production website offers a link to the energy dashboard for each installation throughout the district. The cumulative energy generated, along with the utility cost savings, are shown in the lower left of each dashboard page. Each page also details the surface area, number of modules, and power capacity of each location, along with the cumulative energy generated for that individual site and the data equivalent for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
SOLAR PROGRAM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did Mt. Diablo Unified want to install solar in the District?
Mt. Diablo Unified has long been recognized as a leader in resource conservation and has been actively exploring and continually installing energy technologies and strategies for well over 30 years. Prior to the installation of the solar panel systems, the District spent approximately $3.7 million annually from its General Fund for electricity. By installing solar, the District has been able to reduce costs for electricity by 91% (or $3,346,418) resulting in an annual electricity bill of $334,991.
Where do the savings go?
While the solar installations were fully funded through Measure C, the related utility cost savings go back to the General Fund and applied to other budget needs paid for from the General Fund, including for other operational expenses, educational programs and services, employee salaries, and other needs.
Why was it important to install the solar panels so early in the construction program?
By implementing an aggressive installation plan, the District was able to obtain one-time incentives that were only offered for a short time in 2011 and 2012. As an example, because the District completed the installations early on, it was able to take advantage of incentives and rebates from the California Solar Initiative (CSI), worth more than $16 million over the first five years of operation.
How can the District be assured that it will save the money and reduce utility demand as projected?
The District’s contract with SunPower, the corporation which was awarded the solar contract after a rigorous Request for Proposal (RFP) process, stipulates that SunPower guarantee 95% of production for a period of 20 years. If SunPower fails to meet this production level they must reimburse the District for any production deficit.
Who maintains these solar systems?
As part of our contract with SunPower Corporation, SunPower will maintain all systems and all system components for 20 years. This involves twice-yearly visits to the 51 sites to wash off dust and debris that accumulates over time.
Are these structures/systems safe?
The solar parking and shade structures, all the associated circuitry and electrical support equipment, and their installation details were approved by the Division of the State Architect (DSA) which reviews and approves construction projects and solar in schools for K-12 and community college districts in California to assure compliance with the Field Act. Additionally, the local Fire Marshall approved the layout/installation for safety and emergency access.