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Big Pine Schools eye energy, cash savings

June 14, 2011

Big Pine School administrators are currently looking at architectural plans for a solar system that will be built over the school parking lot. When complete, the solar project is expected to produce up to 80 percent of the school’s energy use. File photo

With summer here, Big Pine School is hoping to harness the sun to power the campus.
Last year, voters approved two bond measures that the school will be using to construct a solar array in the school parking lot.
According to Superintendent Pamela Jones, the project is expected to produce 200 kilowatts of energy per day and will cover approximately 80 percent of the school’s energy use.
In addition to the savings on energy costs, the school will also be eligible for rebates through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Jones said the rebates could total $500,000.
Jones said that the bonds have been sold, so funding for the project is ready. However, she noted preliminary planning must be complete before the project moves forward.
“Right now we’re discussing what electrical services we need with our provider and working with architects” to have plans for the solar array drawn up, Jones said.
The plan, as it stands now, is to have the array built over the Big Pine School parking lot. Jones said solar shades will be built over existing parking spaces.
“The design of the shades is pretty simple, but what we have to work on is how the electrical system will work,” she said.
Project design has been slowed due to a new state official serving in the state architect’s office, who is still familiarizing himself with his district, which runs from San Bernardino to Inyo County.
“The time-line is fluid at the moment depending on the state architect’s review of the plans,” Jones said. “For me the project is going, because we’re working on it.”
Jones said she hopes to see some physical construction, the obvious signs of a project, at the campus beginning this fall. However, until the state architect signs off on the plans, that projection is merely speculation.
“We’re very excited about this,” Jones said. “Our science teacher (Bill Hunt) is working on a solar project for the classroom this summer” to teach local students about the benefit of the project, and how solar energy works.

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