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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: Bad economic analysis once more
By mindless1 on 9/18/2011 4:39:06 PM , Rating: 2
That's not thinking about the future, it's throwing away the future by wasting away the tax money that needed to reduce national debt, build jobs, build cost effective infrastructure.

It's a shell game. You take the tax money, funnel it into a program, waste it away in that program and then claim the debt rises and there have to be cutbacks in other programs.

Used to be, we didn't have this insane level of handouts. We do not have an energy crisis, we have boneheaded people who think they can just keep wasting more and more power then make someone else foot the bill.

Years ago it was crazy to drive 15K miles a year unless you were a traveling salesman, but today people cite numbers close to this as if it's "normal". No, it's wasteful, your needs are no greater today than humans that traveled under 2000 miles a year long ago.

Years ago people would listen to the radio, or other outdoor activites but now we have lights on, computer running, A/C, cell phone, and people actually have the nerve to think they are doing their part to recycle some newspaper, use a CFL light bulb, or encourage wasted money on solar panels.

NO! The answer is quite wasting resources, quit wasting tax money. Where do you think this tax money comes from? Do people not have to drive to work to earn this money? Is it not coming from using MORE energy? Using MORE resources for products made? Making the government MORE bloated and inefficient with every passing day?

NO! All these programs and government incentives are what ruined this country. If a brain dead school district thinks they are smart enough to decide to do this, it would follow they were smart enough with their money to fund this without a loan... but NO! It is not their money and not their debt so what do they care? Irresponsibility abounds.

In summary, if you want to invest in green tech, ok. Do it on your own dime so you are the only one gambling. That is thinking about the future, while funneling away more money we don't have is not.

We have to have a balanced budget and have to curtail all this BS to achieve that.

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By idiot77 on 9/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By FITCamaro on 9/18/2011 6:26:57 PM , Rating: 5
Well at least you admit you're an idiot.

Eliminating the entire defense budget would take us from a $1.5-1.6 trillion deficit to a $1-1.1 trillion deficit. COUNTRY SAVED!


Your post seems to think that the military is costing us around $3 trillion a year.

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By Odysseus145 on 9/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By FITCamaro on 9/18/2011 10:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
Are you fucking stupid? In 3 years with a $1-1.1 trillion DEFICIT we'd be $17+ trillion in debt. Not debt free.

DEFICIT = the amount of money in a year that the government spends more than it takes in

DEBT = the total amount of money from each years deficit added up.

What kind of fucking stupid insano math does your brain operate under?

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By undummy on 9/18/2011 11:31:10 PM , Rating: 4
That stoopid insano math would be "liberal public school math taught by union teachers with no kids left behind but none moving forward either".

Sad that some want to cut the military budget and lay off millions of our soldiers that are protecting, fighting, and dying for us. Many poor use the military as a stepping stone out of the ghetto's poverty. Many undereducated use the military to become educated via the GI Bill....

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By Paj on 9/19/11, Rating: -1
RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By Solandri on 9/19/2011 8:38:32 AM , Rating: 4
The U.S. is already near the top in education spending per student. The problem with our education system is not lack of funding. It's that the funds are poorly used. Until that is fixed, increasing spending on education is just throwing more money into a pit.

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By DrApop on 9/19/2011 2:54:20 PM , Rating: 3
The problem with our education system is not lack of funding. It's that the funds are poorly used.

I disagree (well OK there is a lot of poorly spend funds...but that happens everywhere unfortunately). The REAL problem with our education system is that parents are no longer being parents. They aren't involved in their kids education anymore.

Parents seem to no longer care....except to complain in general about the poor state of education. But if you ask them what their kid learned today or what they ate for lunch, or what their kids talked about in math or english today, I think very few could answer any of those questions let alone one of them.

By geddarkstorm on 9/19/2011 3:28:32 PM , Rating: 3
Considering parents are the only ones you are hardwired to learn from before adulthood; and even more potently the early on in years you go...

But in a world of comfort and lack of personal responsibility (or viewing such as an honor), why would parents take on the trouble and difficulties of adding to their children's education? They'd have to actually love their kids, rather than just themselves.

By Odysseus145 on 9/19/2011 11:51:40 PM , Rating: 1
You're too easy, FIT

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By DrApop on 9/19/2011 2:48:38 PM , Rating: 2
Your 500 billion is way off the mark. You having included all the military aid, training, and weapons we provide all around the world....not to mention 2 wars with parts of their costs never included as part of the original budget.

But I am not for eliminating the military. I want to bring them ALL home. Fill up the bases we closed here in the US. That brings money back to the US. Military bases higher loads of civilians for all types of jobs on base....that increases job numbers enormously around bases. Food, clothing, electronics for servicemen could be US purchased and transported to bases rather than bought in europe or elsewhere for sales on foreign bases. And instead of the 20K servicemen guarding the border in Korea, they can guard OUR southern border.

Hey that is a 500 billion dollar US stimulus right there...and in our own yard!

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By DrApop on 9/19/2011 2:57:00 PM , Rating: 2
Sheesh, I think I need an education. That has to be the most poorly worded reply I have ever posted. I apologize...for the penmanship, not the message :)

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By TSS on 9/18/2011 5:42:30 PM , Rating: 5
Who do you think pays for the school's energy bill? Which will be much, much smaller with these panels?

I find it funny you want to "reduce the national debt", but are against a sollution which will make sure less tax money is spent. It is you who isn't thinking about the future.

Oh and tax money has never in history built jobs or "cost effective" infrastructure. The whole reason tax money gets put towards infrastructure is because it's NOT cost effective and such no private corperation would ever do it, even though it's needed by the people.

How about you practice what you preach and stop wasting energy making stupid comments that don't make sense.

By lagomorpha on 9/18/2011 10:17:58 PM , Rating: 4
You would see a much better, faster return on investment by tearing down Chicago's ancient school buildings and replacing them with buildings with modern insulation. At the moment they just leave the heat running full tilt and the teachers adjust the windows to control the temperature in the rooms because the buildings heat so unevenly. Unfortunately solar panels are new and sexy, fiberglass is not. So which gets the loans...

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By tayb on 9/19/2011 8:55:22 PM , Rating: 1
Spending hundreds of millions on solar arrays that may pay for itself in 10+ is not a solid investment. The return is way too risky given the rapid advancements in these fields.

You call it "forward thinking" I call it misappropriation of funds and/or earmarking.

And when you are $14,200,000,000,000 in debt you DO NOT have the money to build solar arrays that may pay themselves in 10 years. I didn't mistype that debt number either.

By mindless1 on 9/20/2011 9:33:01 PM , Rating: 2
Remember that it's not just the school paying back this loan, the nation is in debt and paying on this money too!

The answer to cut the energy bill is use less power! The fact is, energy from solar panels costs MORE per KWH.

Read that last sentence again and think about it. If we, as a society, spend money on less cost effective ways to generate power we are not saving money.

Instead, we are just creating a bigger money pit in the educational system, money they will just waste away as usual with the rest of us having a larger tax burden and larger national debt.

It's not just this one project I am against, it's the principle, it's this backwards idiotic shell game that costs us all money because people like you have your head in the clouds and aren't thinking through the bigger picture about where the money is going and what it could be bette spent on, or not spent at all.

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By Odysseus145 on 9/18/2011 8:52:00 PM , Rating: 1
So I suppose you deny that that tax money "built jobs" by providing work for the contractor who installed the panels? How are solar cells not "cost affective infrastructure?" 16 years really isn't that long. Most mortgages are longer than that. This is called investing in our future.

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By wookie1 on 9/19/2011 4:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
You're focusing on what is seen, and ignoring what is not seen. What is sacrificed to provide work for the contractors? Since taxes must be collected, and the government is usually not very effective at maximizing return on capital, it's very likely that the money would have been put to better use if it were left in the hands of the individuals. It could be that more jobs were lost than those created, but of course you've ignored that part of the equation.

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By iwanttobehef on 9/19/2011 5:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Except that right now businesses and individuals aren't investing as much as they are saving and hoarding cash. I am not saying gov't spends more effeciently or maximizes ROI, I am saying that more than likely that money would not be put to work at all so there would be no imediate return on investment if it was not spent by the school district.

By mindless1 on 9/20/2011 9:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
That is what should happen! The money should not be spent, it should reduce (the growth of) the national debt.

IF the day comes that we face a real energy crisis instead of just wasteful energy usage, then infrastructure that is more cost effective at generating power should be deployed, and be used by everyone.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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