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September 17, 2009



Looks like this is a done deal according to the SM Daily Journal

Plans to build a $31.5 million solar project at six campuses in the San Mateo Union High School District were approved Thursday, giving officials the go-ahead to seek state approval to begin construction.

Installing solar panels at piqued the interest of district officials since it could use voter-approved bond money to lower the $1.1 million annual electricity bill. Aside from this, the on-campus solar setup will allow for the development of curriculum based on the green technology. Thursday’s approval breaks the project into 13 smaller contracts over two years.

“We’re very excited that it’s on its way to becoming a reality,” said board President Dave Pine. “It has great promise for reducing our energy cost and our carbon footprint.”

Superintendent Scott Laurence explained the district will now submit plans to the state department charged with approving school construction in hopes of starting construction once students leave for summer break.

Plans for funding the project, finalized last week, include a reallocation of $2.6 million earmarked for the Crestmoor site in San Bruno; about $7.7 million in combined savings from completed construction projects; an assumed future savings in money set aside in a number of contingency funds; no longer setting aside money for escalation, which officials do not believe is necessary; and savings from utilizing state grant funds rather than bond money for certain career technical based programs, according to materials prepared by Elizabeth McManus, deputy superintendent of business services.

In September, the board selected a four-school placement option — with panels installed at Aragon, Hillsdale, Mills and Burlingame high schools — presented by Mark Quattrocchi, principal for Quattrocchi Kwok Architects. Concerns were raised that it was unfair to develop curriculum but not the panels at all six schools. Plans were then amended to include smaller demonstration sites at San Mateo and Capuchino high schools.

The aggressive construction timeline calls for construction to begin this summer, with some panels going live in January 2011. Construction at Capuchino would start the latest, in 2011, due to its current construction schedule.

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