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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 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.

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