September 13, 2019
In 2017, students approached the school board about installing solar panels on campuses across CUSD. Thanks to the hard work of these students from environmental clubs like Team Zissou, solar panels were installed in six high school campuses. The $20.6 million solar energy project is being financed by bond sales, which will be paid off with the money the district will save on electricity costs. This new change will be able to cover 80% of the schools’ energy needs with 1.5 megawatts of power annually (Capistrano Unified).
At the close of the 2018-19 school year, the district began this summer project: solar panels. Even though the solar panels and the work required to install them was expensive, their benefits outweigh the initial cost over time. These solar panels are helping reduce the monthly utility bills. In addition, not only do they collect sun rays for power, but they also provide shade for the cars below.
“I think it’s great that the district is choosing to switch all of its schools over to relying on this form of renewable energy,” senior Michelle Nguyen said. “Overall, I’m really glad that we chose to do this because we’re saving a lot of energy and money in the long run since the school seems to always have electricity running somehow, from lighting to air conditioning.”
Although the solar panels are economically beneficial, they have some negative aspects. The schools solar panels get in the way of parking, reducing the number of available spots. This year the school wasn’t allowed to sell as many parking passes because the pillars took away many spots.
Nevertheless, most students seem to like the solar panels. “I think they are great because they keep our cars in the shade and don’t make it harder to park like I thought they would,” senior Jane Parry said.
The solar panels are an overall benefit to the school and give the school a way to save money and support environmental sustainability. Despite some drawbacks, like their impact on the already limit amount of parking available on campus, most students are very happy that they were installed and excited to participate in working towards a better future for our planet.