Bonny Doon Elementary goes green with new solar array
by Joe Shreve
Oct 31, 2013 | 874 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A representative of Cobalt Power Systems leads a discussion of solar energy with students of Bonny Doon Elementary. Courtesy of Stephanie Siddens
A representative of Cobalt Power Systems leads a discussion of solar energy with students of Bonny Doon Elementary. Courtesy of Stephanie Siddens
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Courtesy of Stephanie Siddens
Courtesy of Stephanie Siddens
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The students of Bonny Doon Elementary School will soon be seeing by a much greener light after an array of solar panels is activated on the school’s campus this week.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 31-kilowatt array took place on the Bonny Doon campus the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 25.

“This was three years in the making,” Principal Stephanie Siddens said of the project, which she said would generate approximately 40,000 kilowatt hours per year. “It’s going to cover 90 to 95 percent of our energy needs.”

The effort to get the system installed began when, as Siddens said, the school was “adopted” by the Monterey-based nonprofit The Offset Project — an organization focused on reducing carbon emissions in the Monterey Bay region.

“We were the first school selected,” Siddens said, adding that the organization had helped the school with inspections, and energy assessments that were all done for free by Cabrillo College students who were working on advanced solar installation certifications.

Afterward, the school contracted with Cobalt Power Systems for the actual installation of the solar arrays.

The school will pay for the system through a 10-year, $122,000 lease, Siddens said, adding that the school’s goal is to be able to pay it off sooner.

“It’s a small system and it was difficult to find funding,” she said of the lease.

Though the $122,000 price tag may seem high, Siddens said, the cost will actually be less expensive for the school than if it had remained wholly on the power grid and will be drawn from funds that previously would have gone toward the school’s energy costs.

“It’s less than what we would’ve paid for PG&E,” she said. “Usually, our electric bills are around $1,400 a month — our lease payment is $895.”

Over the next 25 years, Siddens said, the solar array will save the school district thousands of dollars, even more so once the lease is paid off.

“We’re projecting to save $350,000, minimum, over 25 years,” she said.

Once the array goes on-line, Siddens said, students will be able to access information on the internet to monitor the amount of energy the solar panels are saving, as well as how that data correlates to the school’s carbon footprint.

For more information about The Offset Project, visit www.theoffsetproject.org. For more information about Bonny Doon Elementary School, visit www.bonnydoon.santacruz.k12.ca.us/

- To comment, email reporter Joe Shreve at joe@pressbanner.com, call 438-2500 or post a comment at www.pressbanner.com.
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