IUSD's Solar Initiative: installation of solar-panel parking facilities

Solar-panel parking canopies will be installed at nine of 12 proposed school campuses, the Irvine Unified School District board decided after postponing the vote for more than a month to solicit community feedback.

The project will add vehicle shade structures outfitted with energy-generating solar panels. By entering into a mutually beneficial power-purchasing agreement with SunEdison, the district paid no upfront capital costs and is now saving about $220,000 a year.

The canopies will be painted to match each school's architectural color scheme, according to Mark Sontag, the district's math and science curriculum coordinator.
In addition, each site will also be evaluated to determine how many trees need to be removed or relocated to a different area of the site to mitigate the visual impact of the carports, Sontag said. The estimated cost of moving the trees will be determined when solar company SunEdison finalizes its renderings for the carports.

The project is the second phase of the district's solar initiative to save on electricity costs. Now with the revised list, phase two is expected to save roughly $305,000 in the first year, down from the original projection of about $380,000.ed when solar company SunEdison finalizes its renderings for the carports. 

In 2010 and 2011, Irvine Unified added rooftop panels to 13 schools and solar-panel parking canopies to two district buildings, saving $220,000 in the first year.
Both phases of the project have no upfront cost to the district because SunEdison pays for the installation. The company earns money by selling the energy to the district at a lower price than what Southern California Edison charges.
All told, the two phases are expected to save $4 million to $10 million in the next 20 years, depending on what Southern California Edison charges for its electricity. The district's annual bill has been about $4 million in recent years.


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