LAUSD officially becomes “solar” system

Solar Sites

With a unanimous vote this week, the Los Alamitos Unified School District officially agreed to enter the age of solar energy, agreeing to sign a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that is projected to save the district more than $16.3 million over the next three decades.

Following a process of more than 18 months of negotiating and investigation, the board signed the PPA agreement with PFMG Solar to buy electricity at a fixed rate at 10 sites.

“This is one of those things that make financial sense and puts the district in a good place,” said outgoing board member David Boyer. “I think the timing could not be better,” he said.
“This will provide shade (for cars and students) as well as save money,” said Dr. Nancy

Nien, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, who spearheaded the effort.

“The beauty of this agreement is that it doesn’t cost us any money, but it allows us to save funds over the next 30 years,” said Dr. Andrew Pulver, Supt. Also, he said, the company is responsible for installing the equipment and for maintaining it, for cleaning it, etc.

Pulver and Boyer thanked Dr. Nien and her team, including C. J. Knowland, Director of Facilities and Myra Gonzalez, Bond Program Manager. The superintendent says Gonzalez’ negotiating skill saved the district an additional $1 million. Nien credited them as well for their hard work to make the deal happen.

Nien said a separate project should save LAUSD an additional $4 million over that same 30-year period.

“We have gone through all of the terms and we are excited to bring you this opportunity,” said Nien. She said the negotiated rate of 15.6 cents per kilowatt will provide predictable energy costs and third-party ownership of the equipment (by PFMG) will save additional funds.

Federal tax credits will be lowered at the end of the year, so it was important to lock in the maximum district savings in 2020.

According to Nien, solar panels will be installed on campuses in parking lots and open space. In addition, solar shade structures in parking lots will provide shaded parking spots for faculty, students, and the community. Elevated solar structures provide shaded areas for students to gather and play.

Moreover, she said, the community will benefit from a reduction of more than 3,360 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Once installed, the systems are designed to provide solar power for 75% of the historical consumption of the sites where they are built district wide. This allows for maximum savings for the District by offsetting the highest Southern California Edison (SCE) rates and also provides a cushion for potential reductions in use.

Dr. Nien said the previously purchased battery storage system will allow the district to store power as well. LAUSD officials are planning an outreach campaign to explain the project in more detail to stakeholders and the community, she said.

She said design and permitting is scheduled through early 2021 and construction will commence in late 2021 and is expected to be completed by 2022.

District Office Parking Canopy
Hopkinson Elementary School Elevated Structure
Lee Elementary School Elevated Structure
Los Al Elementary School Parking Canopy
Los Alamitos High School Parking Canopy
McAuliffe Middle School Elevated Structure
& Parking Canopy
McGaugh Elementary School Elevated Structure
& Parking Canopy
Oak Middle School Elevated Structure
& Parking Canopy
Rossmoor Elementary School Elevated Structure
Weaver Elementary School Elevated Structure