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Board to make final decision on solar-power plan for schools
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It’s decision time for the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees on whether the school district should embark on a solar-generation power conservation program.

On Tuesday, June 26, the board will meet and discuss whether the district should enter into a partnership with the Indoor Environmental Services (IES) and Integrated Engineers & Contractors (IEC) to continue energy conservation and building management programs that has been implemented over the last three years. A vote of approval for that proposed partnership will give Superintendent Jason Messer and his staff authority to ink a contract agreement with the two companies that will include securing government funding and rebates to help set up the energy-saving solar program for the school district.

Once that deal is put in place, it would be just a matter months – a year-and-a-half at the most – for the project to become reality. According to information provided at the recent study session presented by the two companies before members of the board and staff, energy savings realized from the project could be as much as $48.1 million in cumulative savings over 25 years or $3.2 million a year in district PG&E bills depending on the project scenario that the board approves. Saving factors will include how much rebates the district would be able to obtain from the California Solar Initiative program and the type of solar-power installation selected, whether it be mounted on the ground or a shade structure.

District staff is recommending solar installation at all school sites. The scenario also being recommended by staff for the board to approve includes a Regional Environmental Studies Center, electric vehicle charging stations, HVAC replacements to further lower energy and deferred maintenance costs, and monitors at each site.

“This district ownership approach not only creates a far greater financial return over the long term, it also provides for much greater year-to-year returns during the first five years due to the district obtaining 100 percent of the CSI (California State Initiative) incentives and being able to defer the low/no interest payments,” according to staff in a report prepared to help the board in making their decision.