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Delaney updates school board on solar project

RANCHO SANTA FE — With the surge of electrical utility costs, the Rancho Santa Fe School District has considered solar power. With the guidance of the District’s attorneys, such as Richard Currier, Delaney told the board of trustees that a power purchase agreement may be the better option.

A power purchase agreement is comparable to a solar leasing agreement for a residential property, she explained. Currently, the district is researching the solar company, Panasonic.

“We could rent from them at a cheaper rate,” she said.

Delaney also noted how some recent documentation she received uncovered how leasing could also potentially save the school district money.

Delaney said the advantages of a power purchase agreement are that the company owns the solar panels and are responsible for any repairs and equipment. In their preliminary research, Delaney said that some school districts which have purchased the solar equipment were not as happy because sometimes the repair costs offset any savings.

Delaney went on to say that it personally didn’t bother her not to purchase the solar panels and equipment so that the district could keep their money in the bank and still have a utility savings.

Tentatively, the district did have a power purchase agreement, Delaney said.

She also shared that she has consulted with Debi Vaughan-Cleff of Webb-Cleff Architecture and Engineering.

“The only other consideration Debi and I have discussed, and I want to discuss a little further, is do we want to put it [solar panels] on the roof?” Delaney asked the board.

Delaney explained that while the solar company is responsible for the installation and any damages, the roof tiles were older dating back to 1991. Other possibilities were also waiting on the solar panels until the district built a new gym or renovated the existing one.

Delaney proposed that she would like to bring the solar panel topic back to the board of trustees in January as a recommendation on how to proceed based on any new information she and her team gathered.

Delaney said her focus was threefold: a power purchase agreement with Panasonic who owns the solar equipment, to research another solar company, or to wait until the new gym is built or the existing one is renovated.

Board trustee and clerk, Marti Ritto, was interested in being part of the calculations by seeing the difference between what the long-term costs were of purchasing the solar system versus a power purchase agreement.

“I’m just interested in the numbers,” she said.

Delaney mentioned that if they moved forward with solar construction, there would be an upcoming deadline. With that said, Delaney reinforced that even with a deadline, she did not want to rush any decisions because it was a big one to make.