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San Ramon Valley Unified School District installs 10k photovoltaic panels at five schools

In a move that is proving to be controversial with some, some California school districts are looking to a high-tech way to save money, even if the payback won't be achieved until well over a decade later. CNN is reporting that some California school districts are looking to low-interest federal loans to install solar panels on schools.

CNN singled out the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, which has installed roughly 10,000 photovoltaic panels at five of its 35 total schools at a cost of $23 million. Under the most optimistic projections, the photovoltaic panels would offset energy usage at the schools by 67 to 75 percent. 

According to spokesman Terry Koehne, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District will pay back the loans courtesy of the energy savings from using the solar installations. However, this won't be a quick payback for the school system -- it will take roughly 16 years to break even on the photovoltaic panels.

Koehne, however, points to the upside of embarking on this expensive venture; "It's pure profit after that. And following that, we're going to start realizing savings of $2 (million), $3 (million), $4 million a year."

Like many schools across the nation, California schools are facing a serious budget crunch. Less money means fewer teachers, fewer teaching assistants, and more students per classroom. By making this move now, the school district is hoping that the future payoff will allow it use its resources more wisely. 

Lower production costs, thanks to stiff competition from Chinese companies, is causing a surge in the adoption of solar panels. One of the causalities of the race to the bottom in panel costs was Silicon Valley-based Solyndra. The company received a rushed $535 million loan courtesy of the Obama industry during 2009 in order to bolster its operations.

However, the company two years later filed for bankruptcy and axed over 1,000 employees. Interestingly, an email that was sent out before final approval of the loan was granted rightly projected that the company would run out of money by September 2011. 

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RE: americans are joke
By mindless1 on 9/18/2011 4:28:04 PM , Rating: 2
FALSE! Economic resources like coal is money put into US workers pockets while the article mentions Chinese solar panels!

It's NOT actual jobs and productivity it is the opposite, a waste of money that NEEDED to either be put to good use, or kept in the pockets of those workers paying taxes so they can pay their mortgage, eat, afford gas to drive to work, etc.

You can't see the truth behind the fluff. A simple concept like "use less fossil fuel" has to have a sane solution not just green brainwashed nonsense waste. The panels will degrade, will need maintenance and repair, there's the removal and disposal fee, and it's costing us all tax money to waste even more money.

If they want to save on the power bill, USE LESS POWER. It's such a magical solution that I dared to even write it down because nobody will believe this simple truth. The less power they use, the more and more unfeasible the solar panels would be even if they would have ever broken even.

What did they need to do instead? Fire the school officials that decided to do this. Their positions are better left empty than letting things go from bad to worse.

In the end a school system must work within their budget, they should never ever take out loans to do anything. It's a sign they can't make ends meet and taking out a loan in that case is just digging a deeper hole. You CUT BACK on spending when times are tight, NOT gambling on a non-essential upgrade WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

In the end it is a school system. Do these panels effect a positive result on the education? No. They are contrary to the purpose. If we want government subsidizing adoption of solar panels then at the very least it should be a broad scale effort that benefits everyone, a power company should plug them into the grid, and buy them from US companies.

THAT would create US jobs and productivity, even though solar panels are still too expensive compared to nuclear, etc. We say people oppose nuclear, but it is not true, people are greedy enough that if the cost of power goes up, more and more will concede nuclear is the answer.

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