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Manteca Unified breaking ground on solar project

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POSTED March 12, 2013 12:33 a.m.

Manteca Unified’s Renewable Energy Efficiency Project is literally taking off the ground at Golden West Elementary School. The North Main Street campus in Manteca is where the groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the district’s multimillion-dollar solar energy project – formally known as REEP – will take place on Thursday, March 21, at 4 p.m. This is phase one of the project’s ground-mounted solar installations.

The district will save a projected $48 million over a 25-year period which exceeds the cost of the installation and financing of the state solar energy system by millions of dollars.

This portion of the renewable project is being done through IEC Power, LLC. Following suit after Golden West will be the 21 other elementary campuses in the district, as well as Lathrop, East Union, Manteca, Sierra, and Weston Ranch high schools plus the school district office site on West Louise Avenue at Airport Way. The project involves the installation of solar panels on ground and existing-property campuses. Typically at other school districts they have been installed on car ports.

The construction phase of this $31 million renewable energy project continued rolling in January when the Board of Trustees approved a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) exemption for the project because the solar installations are considered a minor alteration of existing facilities and that the type of expansion being done to the existing sites is considered negligible. With their net generating capacity at just 50MW or less, these installations can be simply considered as co-generation projects. A CEQA study would have required further time for the solar project to proceed. At same January meeting, the board also voted to approve a $46,500 agreement with Eric Wohle of LDA Partners in Stockton for architectural and related services in connection with the REEP project.

After the groundbreaking ceremonies, there will be refreshments provided by the Culinary Academy of the Manteca Unified Vocational charter school.

Also, according to another resolution approved by the board at their January meeting, the solar-energy structures will:

•not be accessible to students, teachers and the public;

•not be accessible to or used by persons with disabilities,

•be enclosed by a fence and include signs reading, “Not open to the public – maintenance personnel only,” to make sure students, teachers or the general public will not be subject to a hazard resulting from potential collapse of the ground structures.

REEP is part of the school district’s goal of implementing energy-efficient school operations and to build energy-saving systems.

Golden West Elementary School is located at 1031 North Main Street.

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