West Valley High unveils panels that will reduce costs
By Rob Rogers, Record Searchlight
September 29, 2006
COTTONWOOD -- Anderson Union High School District enthusiastically unveiled Thursday at West Valley High School its new $1.73 million photovoltaic system -- solar panels that officials say will reduce the school's energy consumption by 30 percent. Adding to the figure is $283,000 in additional energy efficiency upgrades of West Valley High facilities that will save the school an additional 20 percent in energy consumption, officials said.
The solar panels, seven rows of deep-purple grids, are nestled behind the Eagles' baseball field and adjacent to the school's shotgun trap shooting range. Since their installation in July, they've already produced 107,600 kilowatts of electricity.
Three years ago, district Business Director Jackie Titus was approached by Dan Herman of Anderson, an electrician with D&J Electric. The company specializes in photovoltaic systems and is partnered with Spectrum Energy Inc., which makes up the Anderson Energy Project.
The group then sought involvement from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and by August 2005 had received the school district board's approval. With PG&E on board, the school was eligible for a $3.50 rebate per kilowatt hour from the company -- resulting in a $853,930 check from PG&E given to Titus on Thursday.
That rebate, plus a $1.16 million loan from the California Energy Commission, paid for solar panels and the energy-efficiency upgrades to the school buildings. The district will pay off the loan, which was given to the school with a 4.1 percent interest rate, with the money it saves on its electricity bills.
The school still will save about $20,000 this year in energy costs, even after making loan payments and meeting its reduced energy bill.
"Every year we're going to save more as (electricity) rates go up," Titus said.
Attending the event were officials from other Anderson district schools, Shasta College and the city of Anderson. Much of the morning's enthusiasm carried over after the event as city and education officials spoke with members of the Anderson Energy Project about the feasibility of solar power for their respective organizations. Shasta College, which earlier this year considered installing a cogeneration plant, may now take a closer look at solar power, college President Gary Lewis said.
But most of the excitement Thursday morning came from Anderson district administrators, who were delighted about having a functioning science project in the school's backyard and about taking measurable steps to embrace green energy.
"It's something for humanity," Palomino said. "We're taking a step in the right direction."