Rancho Santa Fe School District studies solar options on campus

The Rancho Santa Fe School District is considering the possibility of going solar on its R. Roger Rowe campus.

At a March 5 meeting, the board heard an update from Debra Vaughn-Cleff of Webb Cleff Architecture and Engineering on a couple of ways the district could approach a solar project at their school.

One option would provide the school with a 10 percent offset and the other would aim for the “sweet spot,” a 60 to 80 percent offset. The “sweet spot” option comes at a cost of $750,000 to $1 million.

Vaughn-Cleff said the district could decide to pay for the system and own it, or it could opt for a power purchase agreement in which the installation is owned and operated by the solar developer and the school pays the developer for the electricity produced by the panels.

The funding for the solar project would probably come out of the district’s capital funds or operating budget, according to Superintendent Lindy Delaney.

Vaughn-Cleff gave an overview of possible locations for solar installations. For the 10 percent offset option, Vaughn-Cleff said the best option for solar would be panels housed on the new two-story buildings. For the large amount of 60 to 80 percent offset, Vaughn-Cleff said they would look to do roof-mounted solar on the campus’ two story-building and solar canopies on the back of the campus, replacing the lunch structures and continuing on to the swing sets so the swings would be in the shade under the canopy.

Delaney said the district’s SDG&E bill is $14,000 to $20,000 a month and has substantially increased this year.

Vaughn-Cleff said with the solar projects, the district could see a 30 percent reduction in its bill. President Todd Frank said it was a little shocking that they could be producing 80 percent of their own energy and reduce their bill only by 30 percent, but Vaughn-Cleff said that is because of the way SDG&E charges with demand.

Delaney said if the district opted for the solar project, it would hope to have it implemented during summer 2016. The next step would be having a solar company come to the board for a detailed presentation.