SANTA MONICA DAILY PRESS. SEPTEMBER 1, 2010. By Nick Taborek
SMMUSD HDQTRS — The rooftops at nine Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District campuses could soon be getting solar panels designed to generate two-thirds of the district's electricity needs, under a deal expected to receive approval from the school board at its meeting tonight.
The board signed off on the plan in principle months ago and is being asked tonight to finalize a deal with Regeneration Finance that district officials say will save SMMUSD slightly more than $1 million on electricity costs during the next 25 years.
Under the proposal, the district would provide space for the solar panels at nine campuses free of charge and would enter into a 25-year contract to purchase electricity from Regeneration. The company would agree to sell electricity to SMMUSD at $0.131 per kilowatt hour with an annual escalator of four percent. The proposal is expected to prevent 23,822 tons of greenhouse gases from being produced over the term of the deal.
"The nice thing about this for us is that we will have a guaranteed rate that we know we can budget for and not have to deal with the fluctuation in power costs," said Superintendent Tim Cuneo.
Under the deal with Regeneration, a company called PermaCity would install and maintain the panels.
The proposed contract includes a handful of deal points board members suggested at an earlier meeting, Cuneo said, including an "educational component" to the project and a stipulation Regeneration should "use local labor where commercially practicable."
"We don't have any reservations or we would not have brought it forward," Cuneo said of the proposal.
For Regeneration's part, school campuses make profitable sites for solar panels in part because the best months for converting the sun's rays into electricity are also the months when classrooms use the least amount of energy.
That allows the company to get a premium for excess electricity generated during the summer, according to Todd Friedman, Regeneration's vice president of sales and business development.
"The value of the energy produced during the summer months is the highest," he said.
The solar panels would be installed at the following campuses: Grant Elementary, Franklin Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Muir/SMASH, Rogers Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, Cabrillo Elementary. Pt. Dume Elementary and Webster Elementary.