Morro Bay High School will soon be solar-powered

Driving up to Morro Bay High School in Morro Bay, California, I was shocked to see this in the parking lot:

That is a set of solar panels currently being installed and due to go online next month. A number of schools in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, including both high schools and both middle schools, are being fitted with solar panel arrays that will generate up to 80% of each school’s electricity needs annually. The project is expected to save the district about $10 million per year.

SunEdison has been tasked with the construction of the panels in Morro Bay High School’s parking lot and agricultural studies area. When complete, the panels will provide shade as well as electricity. SunEdison doesn’t charge the school or the district anything to build the panels; instead, it will make its money from charging the school for the electricity the panels generate.

The students’ reaction to the new solar panel array has been generally positive, according to Principal Dan Andrus. “Most people like the idea of clean energy,” he says, adding that many students also look forward to being able to park in the shade on hot days.

Getting the project approved, however, was a three-year effort on the school’s part. Andrus explained that the project needed approval from the school board, the City of Morro Bay, the California Coastal Commission, and several other governmental agencies. During this process, Andrus said, the plan got hung up as some Morro Bay residents objected to the initial design, which would have required the trimming of a row of trees along Highway 1, which passes by the school. These residents argued before the City Council to block the development until an alternative plan could be devised that would not harm the trees. As the fight dragged on, the original bidder for the solar panel development dropped the project, but SunEdison intervened and submitted its own plan, which leaves the trees alone. SunEdison’s plan was approved, allowing the project to move forward.

Andrus said of the approval process, “It is interesting as someone from one bureaucracy to be watching all the other bureaucracies at play.”

The construction of the panels has been carefully timed, because of the decrease in available parking while they are installed. Construction began after a major statewide wrestling tournament hosted by the high school, and is set to be completed well before graduation.

3 Responses to Morro Bay High School will soon be solar-powered

  1. AuntLeesie says:

    Very good news, indeed! Thanks!

  2. Daisy Duck says:

    We love our solar system – saves us lots of $$!!

  3. Pingback: Recent Events That Made Me Realize I’m an Adult Now « Cat Flag

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