As the parking lot shared by Davis High School and the Veterans’ Memorial Center stretched out before them, school and city leaders gathered Thursday morning to break ground on an array of solar panels that soon will generate energy and provide shade at the same time.
The carport-style solar panels, similar to a system already installed at Korematsu Elementary School, will be built this summer over the rows of parking spaces in the lot adjacent to the high school, 315 W. 14th St. Additional solar panels will be built over the bicycle parking area on the west side of the lot, and above the patio between the Brunelle Performance Hall and the tennis courts.
School board trustee Sheila Allen observed that students eating lunch on weekdays, and tennis fans enjoying a snack between weekend games, will be able to enjoy the shade beneath the solar panels above the patio.
Trustee Richard Harris spoke of the project’s environmental and financial benefits. It is estimated that the solar panels will save the high school a cumulative $1.18 million in utility bills over 25 years — money that therefore will be available for other purposes.
“As the state pushes us deeper and deeper into a budget hole, we need to do things like this,” Harris said. “It’s green, it’s great, and we can be good financial stewards.”
The solar panels are going up as part of a power purchase agreement between the Davis school district and SolarCity, a private company that handled smaller solar arrays in the Korematsu parking lot and adjacent to school buildings at Harper Junior High.
Jennifer Jachym, senior commercial project development manager with SolarCity, said the Davis High project’s environmental benefits will include a carbon dioxide offset of 18.9 million pounds, the equivalent of planting more than 16 acres of trees and the equivalent of 24 million car miles driven in an ordinary vehicle.
To make room for the panels, existing trees planted between rows of parking spaces will be removed. However, Harris said the school district will replace those trees with new trees planted elsewhere on school district property, at a ratio of nearly two to one.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.