When the sun beams down upon the CHS campus, I cannot help but find myself contemplating the inordinate amount of light energy that goes to waste. It almost seems a crime not to capitalize sunlight, perhaps the most abundant source of renewable energy, considering current efforts to increase energy efficiency on campus.
It is apparent that there is ample roof space available on the CHS campus. Considering this fact, it is hard to imagine why solar panels have not been integrated into the campus infrastructure.
According to the district, solar panels have historically been an issue of money, not practicality.
In a recent interview with Dan Paul, director of facilities and transportation for CUSD, I was told that the District had looked at solar power numerous times in the last 10 years and had always came to the same conclusion: solar doesn’t make sense financially as the district as a public entity can’t take advantage of tax credits that private entities can.
Certainly, one has to realize that money does play a role in the decision-making process; however, the trade-off between money and environmental prudence must also be considered.
The idea of valuing energy sustainability over a daunting initial investment is a factor that has been overlooked in the past.
In speaking with AP Chemistry teacher Michael Guardino, he noted, “The biggest mistake the district made when installing the math wing, science wing and theater was choosing to not install solar panels.”
The district opted to choose the lowest initial investment instead of considering the long-term payback of a larger initial investment that included solar panels. Considering the longevity of the CHS campus, it seems as though there would be plenty of time for a solar panel installation to generate enough revenue on the energy bill to virtually cover its own costs.
Such was the logic used in a 2013 Seaside High School solar array installation.
“The [520-kilowatt solar] project [was] estimated to cost $2.5 million…, [but] consultants estimate [the project] will save the district about $4 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years,” Monterey Herald staff writer Claudia Meléndez Salinas reported at the time.
The feasibility of a solar installation should by now be universally understood. A convincing economic and moral argument must be proposed to the district that convinces them to accept the responsibility to setting a sustainable precedent at CHS.
Given the resources of Carmel High School, we really have the duty to be an environmental leader for public schools.
While change ultimately has to occur through the district, it needs to first start among the student community. So I challenge you: go out and become a proponent for a cause you are passionate about.