Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems on three Ukiah Unified School District (UUSD) campuses, including Capella Elementary, Eagle Peak Middle School, and Grace Hudson Elementary, are nearing completion and will officially come online later in 2020. View the UUSD Energy Dashboard.
By working with SitelogIQ, a company with offices in Santa Rosa that specialize in helping clients develop and implement more efficient energy management, UUSD determined ways to significantly reduce energy costs by installing Solar PV systems at three schools around the District.
This three-school project represents part of a plan by UUSD to use this savings combined with savings from previous LED lighting retrofits at all UUSD schools to pay for the much-needed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at Grace Hudson Elementary.
“Any time UUSD has a chance to capture savings to impact daily school operations positively, it is a fabulous opportunity. The solar systems at our three schools presented an opportunity to be environmentally conscious and fiscally prudent. This is a big win for UUSD!” said UUSD Superintendent Deb Kubin.
The three ground-mounted systems will save taxpaying citizens approximately $207,803 every year, which is a moderate estimate made by SitelogIQ. The system at Grace Hudson Elementary will generate 525,100 kWh of electricity. Eagle Peak Middle School’s setup will generate 373,500 kWh while the new solar at Calpella Elementary will generate 195,100 kWh of electricity.
Along with the enormous savings opportunity, the partnership between UUSD and SitelogIQ ensures an ongoing preventative maintenance program from qualified technicians, a measurement and verification program which includes ten years of monitoring, measuring, and assuring that the savings are there year after year.
Not only will technicians monitor the savings, anyone with a computer and the internet can monitor and check out the savings generated by these solar panels by visiting the UUSD Energy Dashboard. Here anyone will be able to track things like kWh usage and energy savings, all reducing UUSD’s carbon footprint.
There are other significant benefits of the solar panels besides environmental and financial. The ground-mounted solar PV panels act as shade structures that create potential outdoor classroom space, which will be useful when the conditions allow schools to reopen, and physical distancing mandates are potentially still in place.
Many of the panels are above parking lots so staff and visitors will be more comfortable and cars will experience less fading and damage from the sun and rain. UUSD students will have custom lesson plans to interact with engineers and solar designers from SitelogIQ’s Energy Intelligence Quotient (EIQ) program. Kids will get to do research and provide reports with real-world implications. Think of the learning opportunities for our students!
“For SitelogIQ, it has been extraordinary to work with a District as progressive as UUSD. Of the over 300 Districts I work with, UUSD is truly unique in the commitment to energy efficiency and cost savings. Superintendent Kubin has focused on long term money-saving strategies for the District and has worked to create equity on all campuses,” said SitelogIQ Facility Solutions Specialist Jennifer Butler.
Solar projects for more UUSD schools are not in the works right now because it doesn’t financially make sense. All of the other UUSD schools get their electricity from the City of Ukiah, which charges considerably less for electricity than PG&E. Capella Elementary, Eagle Peak Middle School, and Grace Hudson Elementary get their electricity from PG&E, so their solar systems pay for themselves and more.
“I am so excited we can provide this triple benefit for Ukiah: shade for our students in Ukiah’s heat, budget savings, and environmental responsibility,” commented Anne Molgaard, President, UUSD Board of Trustees.
The future looks bright for electrical consumption at UUSD. Taxpayer savings are adding up with fiscally deft decisions like these new solar projects, the recent LED lighting retrofits at all schools, and future endeavors like the HVAC system at Grace Hudson Elementary and the Alex Rorabaugh Center (ARC). With smart fiscal and environmental thinking like this, we’re all better off, and our children and grandchildren will benefit far into the future.
For more information, please contact UUSD Communications Officer Doug Shald at (707) 472-5005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking North over one of the new solar/shade structures at Grace Hudson Elementary School.
Ground-mounted solar PV panels act as shade structures that create potential outdoor classroom space at Eagle Peak Middle School.
Calpella Elementary School’s new solar/parking shade structure.