Town Square

The PUSD spin on solar panels and what they didn't tell you

Original post made by John, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009

PUSD has a category called Budget FAQs. Below is a question regarding solar panel installations and PUSD's response. The question, which I'm beginning to wonder if it was edited by PUSD so they could frame a positive response, was probably the result of the question about the $100K the board voted to pay for the re-location of solar panels at FHS.
Here's the truth....The School Board voted to spend $100K to relocate the FHS solar panels because the panels were installed in a way that obstructed neighbors' view of the ridge. How did that happen? Because PUSD didn't conduct an Environmental Review survey which is standard procedure in Pleasanton for construction. PUSD admitted this was their error (not Honeywell's).
So the $44K a year PUSD is saying the district will save by having solar panels at various schools will not be something the district saves for over 2 years because the district has burdened us with a $100K bill because one of their highly paid administrators didn't do his job (and wonder if he's one of the people who's getting to keep his job?)
So much for the "transparency" the school board keeps claiming it wants to provide the community. What's transparent about witholding the entire truth?

From PUSD Website, Budget FAQs

Did the installation of solar panels cost the District money?
No. The panels were installed at no cost to the District. PUSD signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Honeywell which enabled Honeywell to install panels on our roofs and enabled the District to buy power at a fixed, lower price. Our current cost for power is 11.5 cents per kwh, and the agreement includes a 4.5% increase annually for inflation. The going rate when we signed the agreement was 15 cents and has now gone to 16. The estimate for first year savings was $35,000, which will probably turn out to be $44,000 in savings this year.

Honeywell is also responsible for maintaining the panels. At the end of the agreement (20 years), the District has the option to continue the agreement, purchase the panels at a depreciated price, or have Honeywell remove them at their cost. In summary, the project has enabled the District to realize a savings to the General Fund


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2009 at 12:24 pm

What a surprise the district misleads the community! More credibility issues for PUSD.

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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm

What PUSD doesn't seem to realize is that their credibility is what plays into the whole parcel tax discussion.....if they withhold the truth in one situation, how can we believe they don't do the same in other situations?

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Posted by Bernie
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

Hmmm, I question the issue of ridge view obstruction. Give me a break!

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Posted by wineman
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

If this is true--that the PSUD or their contractor spent money to move panels in order to appease the aesthetic disturbance to a neighbor--then needless money was spent to correct a non-problem. I have even thought of declaring private attorney general status to oppose such accomodations.

I work in the solar field, and find in my work that most city and county officials are ignorant of the CA Solar Rights Acts. These series of laws, extending first back to 1979, and recently added to, EXPRESSLY exclude solar projects from environmental reviews (sorry John--you are wrong). Nothing more than the stautory building permit can be required of a solar project, and extra costs foe aesthetic issues cannot be imposed.

See Solar Rights Act amended by AB 2473.
"This law became effective on 1/1/2005. It is the intent of this law that “local agencies not adopt ordinances that create unreasonable barriers to the installation of solar energy systems, including, but not limited to, design review for aesthetic purposes.” Local authorities shall approve applications through permit issuance and can only restrict solar installations based on health and safety reasons. It is thus intended to encourage installations by removing
obstacles and minimizing permitting costs. Additional key changes limit aesthetic solar restrictions to those that cost less than $2,000 and limits a building official’s review of solar installations to only those items that relate to specific health and safety requirements or local, state and federal law."

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 2, 2009 at 10:34 am

Interesting, but it seems that the solar panels weren't being unreasonably restricted from installation. An unreasonable restriction would be that which precludes the panels from being installed at all. The concern was the placement of them.