Solar power can light up the NPHS campus

Solar is often seen as uneconomic and unviable to the consumer. It is expensive to install the panels, especially over a larger surface area. To a school district with thousands of square feet of flat roof space, installation of solar seems like the ideal dream that is as impractical as it is wonderful.

However, converting at least partially to renewable energy, especially solar, is much more feasible than meets the eye. Solar energy in Southern California has the potential to drastically decrease the state’s carbon footprint and exploring solar on the NPHS campus would be a step in a positive direction for the school and the district.

West Sonoma County School District started looking into solar during a fiscally dark period. Conventional electricity may be easy to access, but it is cumulatively expensive and the district found a way to save money in collaborating with the SunPower Corporation to install panels in various locations. Seventy-five percent of the energy used in the district today is from the sun, and the investment is expected to save the school $9 million in the next two decades. If our school was to adopt this same practice, we would save money as well as become environmentally-friendly.

A solar project is more complicated than it seems on the surface; the school would need to find a time to install the panels when it would not disrupt the learning environment. Additionally, as this is a public district, the initial expenditures for the project would have to come from the district fund.

However, at some point there needs to be a deep cost-benefit analysis on what solar would do not just for our school but also for our planet.

Our school has flat rooftops and is well-funded, meaning that we are in prime shape for building solar panels. Panels have also slowly became less expensive to install as the power of the sun has been realized over time. Solar loans are popular for housing communities, and companies like Solar City have installed panels for free and sold the energy back to the consumers for a lower price; a good way for the company to sell excess energy back to the grid.

In 2010, many solar companies began advertising a new program. Companies would install solar panels for a school or large enterprise for free, and the school would buy back energy from the solar company for a lower price than what is payed to Edison. This process was beneficial both for the school, which was projected to save money in the long run and which would reduce its carbon footprint, and for the company that installed the panels. If we could utilize these programs, we would contribute to sustainable energy industries.

Despite the initial cost of these panels, the amount of energy, and subsequently money saved would benefit the school in the long run.

This is true for Oak Park school district, a smaller coalition than CVUSD, that started their transition to solar in the spring of 2017. In an interview with the Ventura County Star, the district superintendent predicted the savings for the district per year to be close to $360,000, with a $6.8 million flat deposit.

It is naive to assume that converting to solar would be easy. It would not be easy; it would take a tremendous amount of district time and effort. However, in the world’s current environmental state, easy choices are no longer fitting the bill.

Solar panels are a completely renewable source of energy, meaning that aside from production, they create zero carbon emissions. Converting to solar power would reduce the school’s carbon footprint and set a good example for other schools to do the same.

We must stop thinking in the short-term. The immense threat of climate change is often set aside, however, it cannot be ignored any longer. We as consumers and inhabitants of this planet must maintain our world. When students walk onto campus and understand that their education is no longer reliant on fossil fuels, they will finally appreciate the sun’s shine.

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