SDCCD to install solar panels

John Balchak

On September 24, the San Diego Community College District board of trustees agreed to allow Borrego Solar Systems Inc. to install and operate solar panels on campus roofs, garages and shade structures.

In return, the district will be able to buy about 25 percent of its electricity at a discounted rate. Savings are estimated to be more then $100,000 per year.

Under this Power Purchase Agreement, the panels will be set up free of charge as part of a 20 year contract.

“By taking advantage of modern solar technology and current renewable energy incentives, we are able to promote our environmental commitment,” David Umstot, vice chancellor of facilities, said.

The entire project hopes to produce 2.4 megawatts of electricity annually, enough to power 650 homes for a year. It will be one of the largest installations in the 25 year history of Borrego Solar.

Peter Zschiesche, a San Diego Community College District Board of Trustee member who had some reservations about the agreement and abstained from the vote to approve it.
In a recent e-mail to City Times, he wrote that his “major concern about this project was that it (was) quite a departure from the public power system.

(They) currently operate under where profit margins and rate charges are regulated by the public utilities commission. In that sense, I wondered how the profit motive would operate in our situation…”
Upon further analysis, Zschiesche has now thrown his support behind the plan.

“After meeting with Vice-Chancellor Umstot I feel much better about the project now that I more fully understand the factors that went into this power purchase agreement.”
Zschiesche went on to explain that, because solar is an emerging market and the district’s installations will be quite large, “we are able to negotiate a great deal.”

Another factor in his decision was, “…we get to do ‘net metering’ on the weekends when our power usage is lower, which will give us lower net costs overall. I believe that we have negotiated to our advantage on this issue…”

Some Borrego Solar’s installations are located at UCSD and The Egyptian, a residential building in Hillcrest.

“We are delighted to partner with the (SDCCD) on a project that will raise the bar locally in sustainable energy development,” said Mark Pearson, Senior Energy Consultant for Borrego Solar in a press release.

Zschiesche agreed.

“One big contribution of this agreement is that it puts us firmly on this new path of lessening our reliance on fossil fuels. I think our students and administration can learn a great deal from this process…,” Zschiesche added.