With a groundbreaking event Tuesday at Lincoln Elementary School, the Redondo Beach Unified School District kicked off the construction of a 1.6-megawatt solar energy project—the first of its kind in the South Bay.
The project—which is being funded by the voter-approved Measure Q—will consist of solar panels being placed atop carport structures, according to renderings of the planned design.
Once completed, the solar panels will offset 70 percent of energy currently used by the schools and reduce RBUSD's energy consumption and bills, according to PsomasFMG Vice President Alex Smith.
There will be no batteries to store power, Smith said. Instead, the energy captured by the panels will be fed directly to the campuses. The excess will be distributed to surrounding homes.
"In the summertime when schools are closed, we're going to power about 500 homes," Smith told Patch.
When the sun is not shining or there's a heavy cloud cover, the power will come from Edison.
The operational savings, anticipated to be nearly $500,000 annually, are expected to reach up to $15 million over 25 years.
"RBUSD is always looking for cost savings, and we encourage every student to be mindful of the environment," said school board president Laura Emdee in a statement. "This solar project will save RBUSD millions while serving as a good environmental science example for our students and community."
The board of education has not yet discussed what to do with the operational costs saved through the solar program, Emdee told Patch. She plans to put it on the agenda for an upcoming board of education meeting.
According to a news release from the school district, "the solar project will create cleaner air for students and the community by reducing 16,172 tons of carbon pollution over the next 25 years—which is equivalent to taking 2,890 cars off the road or planting 24,540 trees."
The project will also prevent the release of 25,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 23,670 pounds of nitrous oxide over the years.
"We are very excited to be working with such a forward-thinking district," said Alex Smith, vice president of PsomasFMG—the firm chosen to design, build and operate the photovoltaic system at 12 schools. "The savings on energy costs that the district will see can go directly back to the district."
The project is expected to be finished and operational by Spring 2014. The energy savings will not begin to appear until the 2014-2015 fiscal year.