Bond measure lights up new panels

Recently passed Bond Measure S frees up funds for solar panels

Oak Park High School’s recently constructed solar panels are saving more than $26,000 per year in energy costs. Now, after the passage of the bond measure on the November ballot, the school district plans to implement these solar panels at every school in the district.

Solar panels have been implemented at Oak Park High School. The district plans to add panels to the remaining schools in the district. (Joshna Jude Jose/Talon)

“The big news is that, with the passage of Measure S, we are going to now embark on [a] huge solar power initiative in the whole district. We are going to install enough panels to generate 90 percent of our electrical needs at every school in Oak Park,” Superintendent Tony Knight wrote in an email.

Implementing these solar panels at every school in Oak Park will initially cost and ultimately save millions of dollars in energy costs.

“This is the first priority of the bond measure. It will save us over $500,000 a year in electrical costs. The systems are expected to cost about $8 million if we use all U.S. manufactured panels — which we plan to do,” Knight wrote.

According to Knight, the solar panels above the high school’s lunch benches will save up to $30,000 a year if they continue to generate the amount of energy they are currently generating. The high school will make up the amount of money it spent installing the solar panels in about 16 years.

The district board selected the panels to be both sustainable and low-maintenance.

It is so sunny and we ended up choosing American-made, highly efficient panels and they are paying off.”

— Superintendent Tony Knight

“They are highly efficient, U.S.-made panels,” Knight wrote. “They are guaranteed for 25 years and require little maintenance. They just have to be cleaned once a year or so.”

The solar panels also provide features that Knight said he believes the students will enjoy — outlets for charging devices and space to eat lunch.

“The idea is that [the panels] could provide shade for students and also save us some money on electricity and provide an example of renewable power for students to see,” Knight wrote in an email.
According to Knight, the first step to help climate change is with renewable energy.

“Renewable energy needs to be in our future if we are going to address climate change. We need to reduce our carbon footprints by cutting way back on the amount of fossil fuels we burn,” Knight wrote. “Solar energy is a great way to do that and we are showing how great it can be,”

The solar panels have benefitted and will continue to benefit the environment.

“Just this year, the panels have generated 182,368 Kilowatt hours of electricity.” Knight wrote. “This converts into 282,553 pounds of carbon dioxide saved, or enough energy to power 19 homes for a year or the amount of carbon sequestered by 121 acres of forest in one year.”

Solar panels work almost anywhere, but they work especially well in sun-lit California.

“It is so sunny and we ended up choosing American-made, highly efficient panels and they are paying off,” Knight wrote.