DP gets solar power

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Nate VanDeVeire

DP’s new solar panels after the first round of construction.

At the start of this school year, a new addition to the Dos Pueblos campus appeared. Solar panels, covering the front parking lot, have now been installed. These panels, which have been planned for the whole district for three years, have many uses for the school.

“It’s going to be cheaper, clean energy,” Mr. Woodard, the school principal, said. “It’s going to provide 1126 kilowatts per hour, which will power 93% of the school’s [average] energy use.”

In addition, the school will be installing a battery system, which can be powered up when not using all of the solar energy. This will allow a backup power supply in case of emergencies. However, during cloudy days and winter, the panels may not be able to keep up with the power demand.

“There will still be Edison hookups and it’ll still be so the power is not capped, [so we can get] whatever power is needed,” Mr. Woodard said.

While DP will still have to get some of its energy from Southern California Edison, our original power supplier, the majority of energy will be produced by the solar panels.

The construction began earlier this year, but had to be slowed down.

“There were a lot of delays,” Mr. Woodard said. “There were supply chain issues … They still haven’t done all of the underground, pulling up all the power cables and setting up all the infrastructure, they’re going to do that over winter break.”

A large scale construction project like this one would normally require a large investment to fund. However, the district has managed to get a discount deal on these panels.

“The district decided to contract with a company [which will] pay for the installation,” Mr. Woodard said. “And then we buy the power back from them, but we buy at a discounted rate.”

The district paid three million dollars up front, rather than the whole price. They will be in contract with Engie North America, the solar power company, for 28 years once the panels are complete. In addition to green energy and a backup power supply, Mr. Woodard mentioned that the project could have other benefits as well.

“It provides shade for the cars,” he said. “My car is not boiling hot, and it’ll also help because it blocks the sun from hitting the asphalt, so the asphalt probably lasts longer.”

Additionally, there is a special use for the battery which will be installed along with the solar panels.

”If there was a forest fire or a blackout, and the power was down, [the battery is] going to be able to generate power not only for DP, but for the surrounding community based on that power storage,” Mr. Woodard said.

The solar panel installation process is planned to continue during the winter break, and ideally finish up then.

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