Taft Union High School District to construct solar power system that will pay for itself in 10 years or less, officials say

The Taft Union High School District is going solar.

A 1.29 megawatt solar power system that is expected to go on line early next year will provide about 75 percent of the district's electricity and cut energy costs by the same amount after the TUHS Board of Trustees approved a $3.5 million contract for the photovoltaic project.

According to figures presented by both by Ilan Fuss of Sage Renewables, the firm hired by TUHSD to develop the project, and District Business Manager Chuck Hagstrom the energy savings generated by the use of solar power will range from $370,000 to $415,000 per year for the district, meaning the project could pay for itself in 10 years or less.

Fuss presented figures showing the project should offset 78 percent of the districts power use in the first year with a savings of 73 percent of the utility bill.

The solar power system is expected to have a useful life of at lest 25 years and Hagstrom said the district could realize a total savings on energy costs of more than $6 million in the next quarter century.

REC Solar of San Luis Obispo was the firm selected for the contract to construct and install the solar power system after a year-long process that started with a feasibility study in March 2016.

Most of the power will come from an array of solar panels located on vacant land the district owns on the west side of Tenth Street between Irene Street and Sandy Creek.

it will be located to the rear of the property, behind another part of the parcel that the District is planning to build a new maintenance, transportation and operations facility.

There will also be solar panels installed across the street in the parking lot next to Buena Vista High School.

The project time line presented by Ilan Fuss shows nine to ten month timetable for completion of the project.

Actual construction should start in October after completion of the design and permitting process with "substantial completion" by December.

Final completion is targeted for January or February of 2018.