A KNTV news crew reports from
the solar-paneled roof of Conley-
Caraballo High School. (NHUSD Photo)
Enrique Palacios, Executive Director of Operations for New Haven, said the idea installing an array solar power panels came to him when the idea of building the school, to replace the demolished but sorely missed El Rancho Verde High School, was proposed. In an interview with The Courier, he said “Since the school was going to be rebuilt, it made it even easier to install. Conley is a new school, there is no history, so I thought, let’s test it.”
Getting solar power installed is a process that takes time. Palacios said “In order to get the solar power built, I had to get it approved by the board and if they approve, then we send it to the state for them to check their codes and wait for approval.”
The entire solar power system cost $840,000 said Palacios. However the district received $400,000 worth of rebates and grants to help pay for the installation. The school district would have paid about $40,000-$45,000 a year for electrical power at the school without the solar power installation. With lower electrical bills due to the solar power installation, the project is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years. The new equipment is expected to last up to 30 years.
Even with the solar power generating panels on the roof, the school is not "off the grid" entirely.
On cloudy, overcast days, for example, the panels make as much electricity from the sun as they can, and whatever else the school needs comes from PGandE.
But the school will also sell power back to PGandE for it to sell to other customers. During the weekends and summer for example, the solar panels continue working and the energy that is being absorbed is transmitted to PGandE and the District receives credit. So, it is a win-win situation.
Palacios has submitted applications for Logan and Kityama Elementary School to also get solar panels mounted to the roofs. Since Logan is twice as big as Conley, 15% of Logan would be solar while Kityama will be 90% solar since it is significantly smaller. Palacios said that building solar panels on schools that are already built would not be difficult.