MVLA nears completion on solar-panel project

Photo Photos Courtesy Of Autumn Casadonte

Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District officials and students, above, turn on the solar canopies installed in the Los Altos High parking lot, below.

Officials from the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District and Cupertino Electric Inc. gathered at Los Altos High School last week to celebrate the installation of solar canopies in the school’s parking lot.

The 1.26-megawatt photovoltaic system is part of a larger modernization program funded by Measure A, a $41.3 million bond voters approved last June.

“With the Cupertino Electric-designed solar system and recent ‘Green Schools’ certification status earned by Los Altos and Mountain View High schools, we are excited to continue to educate students about renewable energy,” said Joe White, associate superintendent of business services for the district. “The 1.26 MW solar system should provide enough power to meet nearly half of the district’s electrical needs and demonstrate why Los Altos and Mountain View High schools were among the first high schools in the county to achieve ‘Green Schools’ certification status.”

Los Altos High instructor Greg Stoehr said he plans to use the solar panels as a learning tool. Stoehr, who teaches AP Environmental Science, said his students study alternative energy sources, and he can use small solar cells to conduct experiments on how to maximize the current collection.

“We want to discover how the school can conserve energy and investigate its electric footprint,” he said.

The district’s solar project comprises two distinct systems installed on ground-mounted canopies: a 515-kilowatt system on the Los Altos High campus and a 755-kilowatt system on the Mountain View High campus. The canopies span approximately 95,000 square feet.

Over its 25-year lifetime, the district’s solar equipment is estimated to produce 39,302,704-kilowatt hours of electricity, an amount equal to the annual carbon-dioxide emissions from the electricity use of 100 homes. The estimated kilowatt-hours generated are valued at approximately $11.1 million. In addition to energy savings, the district will receive PG&E rebates worth approximately $1.6 million.

Other Measure A projects:

• In May, the district will break ground on a swimming pool/weight-room complex at Mountain View High School. The six-month project is scheduled for completion in February 2012.

• In the summer, the district plans to install new fire, phone and life-safety systems at the Mountain View and Los Altos High school campuses.

• In spring 2012, the district will begin adding classrooms at both schools, the largest project funded by Measure A.

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