YUHSD advances plans for solar projects
Memorandums of understanding for three upcoming solar projects were unanimously approved Wednesday during a Yuma Union High School District special meeting.
The plan is for the solar panels to be constructed as covered parking structures at Kofa, Vista South and Yuma high schools. YUHSD is working with Arizona Public Service through the schools and government program to complete the projects in its efforts to reduce energy expenses and improve its facilities.
YUHSD approved similar projects for its other three high schools — Cibola, Gila Ridge and San Luis — this past fall under a program that limited participation to three schools.
The next step for the APS project will be to bring a recommendation of easements to a future board meeting. The easement details will be written by APS and reviewed by the city of Yuma.
Rex Stepp, APS renewables technical account representative, said that if for some reason APS rates were to increase, the schools' rates would be locked into the same rate for a 20-year period. He also said the district has the ability to take itself out of the fixed rate, but the system will still remain on the campuses for the duration of the contract.
Stepp explained that APS takes care of the system on the district's campuses and also fixes any issues that may arise with the equipment.
“If for some reason the system doesn't produce what it's supposed to produce, the school still receives their monthly allotment of kilowatt hours at that fixed rate.”
Based on the district's power usage in past years, Stepp estimated about a 2 percent savings on its electricity bill at the beginning of the project, a number that has the potential to increase over time if APS rates increase.
If the easement is approved by the board, said Associate Superintendent James Sheldahl, it will be up to APS to move forward with the engineering and construction of the project. He said they hope the solar panels will be in place in 2014.
Overall, he said, “It's a hedge against future rate increases, with really no risk to the district and no outlay to the district ever. It's a really a win-win for us, the taxpayers and the folks at our campus who are going to be able to park in the shade.”
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.