Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Using Solar Panels in San Diego Schools to Save Costs and Protect the Environment

The cost of education is going up in San Diego and it has nothing to do with curriculum. According to an article in UT San Diego the cost of electricity for public schools in San Diego County bounced to $30 million (1). Over half of these school districts saw their electricity bills explode to over 43% in the past six months. Officials are upset as the costs are crushing their budgets and soaking up resources. An evaluation of the long-term nature of this problem and the possibilities of implementing solar panels is beneficial. 

Installing solar panels on the roof and facilities of San Diego schools is not an impossibility as the idea as it has already been completed in Orange County Schools. The project costs $17 million dollars and is a 20 year commitment that generates 6.6 million kilowatt hours of solar energy per year that removes the equivalent of the pollution of 12,000 cars per year from the environment (Yarbrough, 2010). 

The benefits of solar program will need to be calculated through a thorough feasibility study of the use of energy, the investment costs of solar panels, and the options for financing to ensure that it makes sense. If it creates a net positive value for the school district and the length of the school buildings themselves then it should be a project worth considering. 

The other issue is the use of electricity and whether or not there are other ways to save on costs. Massachusetts’s School District changed their lighting, thermostat control, and energy monitoring to save money (Connell, 2014). The conservation of energy can take a nice bite out of the cost of running the schools and can lead to tertiary learning about other ways to improve the schools. 

There are no easy solutions but one of the ones that are most likely are using alternative sources of energy and starting to spark San Diego into a place where sustainable development is a viable option. Projects like water desalination and solar panel inclusion help create multiple sources of resources. Better monitoring and using technology to reduce waste in those systems further helps the city make it to the next stage of development. 

Connell, J. (2014). A massachusetts school district’s pioneering path to solar. Environmental Design & Construction, 17 (8). 

Yarbrough, S. (2010). Going solar in Orange County Schools. Sustainable Facility, 35 (1).

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