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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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By Cerin218 on 9/21/2011 3:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
Have we spent ourselves into prosperity yet? CA is a state that is somewhere around 24 BILLION in debt. So where is the logic in spending yourself deeper into debt for a possible reduction of future cost? You only save money if you aren't in debt to begin with. Like when I replaced the windows in my house. it cost me 11K. I save roughly 75 dollars a month in my energy bill. so over the course of the year I might save 1,000 dollars. If I had paid for the windows on credit, it would take 10 YEARS to break even on the investment. So I wouldn't be "saving" money. Because I paid cash, that 1K is my savings per year. That is money I don't have to spend right now, and can spend on other things. THAT'S savings. Buying on credit then pretending you are saving money is the why this country is 14 TRILLION in debt and getting worse. And the morons running this country that believe we can spend ourselves into prosperity make me want to puke. So when all you morons squeal tax the rich, it's because you want to take money from them to waste on stupidity like this school district is doing. The problem isn't that the government doesn't take enough, it's that it wastes money that it does take on stupidity like this. It's called sustainability, and debt spending isn't sustainable.

So I don't see what you DO like about this plan. Unless you aren't happy that the government only takes 33% of your income to waste on stupidity. But people like you are exactly why California and this country in general are failing. Pay for the things you need in cash, THAT is investment. Don't steal from everyone else to pay for what only a few people will benefit from. How will a school in CA benefit me by using my tax money to subsidize their solar experiment?

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