New agreement to bring solar to five San Dieguito schools

The exterior of the San Dieguito Union High School District office in Encinitas.
The exterior of the San Dieguito Union High School District office in Encinitas.
(Karen Billing)

The San Dieguito Union High School District has entered into an agreement with ForeFront Power to design, construct and install solar facilities at five of its district campuses. The contract will assist the district in meeting the state’s energy conservation goals and help reduce the rising costs of energy needs at schools.

At the Dec. 14 meeting, the board approved entering into a power purchase agreement with ForeFront Power through the School Project for Utility Rate Reduction (SPURR). SPURR is a joint powers authority of over 300 K-12 and community college districts in the state—acting as a buying consortium, SPURR develops “piggybackable” buying programs to help schools reduce their utility costs.

Kevin Flanagan of SPURR (who happens to be an Oak Crest and San Dieguito Academy alum), said their Renewable Energy Aggregated Procurement Program conducted a statewide request for proposals for solar and energy storage and selected ForeFront Power as the winning vendor.

In a power purchase agreement the third party installs, owns and operates the energy system and the district then purchases the energy at a lower rate.

After consulting with district staff, ForeFront proposed installations at the five school sites that are without solar installations: Diegueno, Oak Crest and Pacific Trails Middle Schools, San Dieguito Academy, and Torrey Pines High School. The agreement will also supplement the system at Earl Warren to achieve an average energy offset of 91% across the six sites.

“The year one savings are excellent,” said Nate Smith-Ide, sales manager at ForeFront.

Without any capital outlay or financing from the district, the installations are projected to have year one savings of $317,174. The savings projected during the life of the proposed agreements are about $16.5 million over 20 years.

Smith-Ide said ForeFront also has a curriculum component with Strategic Energy Innovations that gets students thinking critically about renewable energy, sustainability and conservation by using the solar projects on campus as a “living lab”.

Since 2011, the district has installed solar facilities at Canyon Crest Academy, La Costa Canyon, Earl Warren and Carmel Valley Middle School. These installations generated an estimated 5,262,243 kilowatt hours of energy and savings of $1,372,919 last year, according to John Addleman, executive director of planning services.