Getting Schooled

Plumas Lake school district takes advantage of Prop 39 for energy-efficiency projects

Back Article Jun 20, 2017 By Russell Nichols

Plumas Lake Elementary School District in Yuba County partnered with SmartWatt, a New York-based solar firm with an office in Rocklin, to optimize its energy system, including the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. It wasn’t the first solar panel project for SmartWatt, but it is the company’s largest to date.

Under California’s Proposition 39, school districts have access to $550 million a year for energy efficient projects. The Plumas Lake Elementary School District didn’t want to waste that golden opportunity.

The K-12 school district in Yuba County partnered with SmartWatt, a New York-based solar firm with an office in Rocklin, to optimize its energy system, including the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. It wasn’t the first solar panel project for SmartWatt, but it is the company’s largest to date.

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Matt Delp, project development manager for SmartWatt, spearheaded the system’s design. To comply with requirements of California’s Division of the State Architect, Delp had to reinforce some of the school building’s tresses to lower roofs, made of standing seam metal. This required a lot of pre-testing.

“The solar panels are mounted directly to the roof,” Delp says. “They wanted to make sure wind wasn’t going to rip the roof off.”

The goal was to design a system that would eliminate as much of the energy bill as possible, with a savings estimate of about $180,000 a year. With energy rates in California escalating, Delp says, school districts can use the savings generated from these systems to offset utility costs.

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