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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 FredEx on 9/19/2011 10:17:21 AM , Rating: 3
Something I recently read that nobody thought about figuring in to the cost savings of massive solar installs on large buildings is the shading effect. Companies in very sunny climates, such as parts of California, have found their air conditioning costs have dropped a good amount due to the shading of the building's roof from the installation of the solar panel arrays. The direct surface temperature of some roofs had dropped dramatically.


RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By tng on 9/19/2011 10:33:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
their air conditioning costs have dropped a good amount
Just a rule of thumb from a building manager I know in CA. If you generate 1 watt of heat inside your building, it takes about 2 watts of power via the AC to remove it. So yes there is a lots of economics comments here by people who don't have a full picture of what they are talking about.


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