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CUSD Announces Solar Upgrade Project
Posted 12/13/17

Board of Trustees Awards Contract to San Luis Obispo Solar Energy Firm


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA –The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees has awarded an $18 million contract to REC Solar Commercial Corporation to convert six high schools and the CUSD Education Center to solar power. Trustees who were present voted unanimously at the December 6 public meeting to award the energy service contract for design, installation, and commission of the solar project that will power nearly 10 percent of the district when complete.


The charge to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly District was led by a coalition of Capistrano Unified School District High School Students who created a powerful, supportive movement through petitions, a website, and social media.


“These incredible students take their environmental stewardship roles seriously, and showed relentless drive to improve the Capistrano Unified School District,” stated Board of Trustees President Martha McNicholas. “I am proud that these outstanding students are changing the way we think about our climate and constantly looking for ways to better our community. Their collaboration with the District has been incredible and we look forward to continuing our work with each of them.”


The solar project is expected to save, on average, $849,000 a year, for a total of $21 million in savings. Installation of the photovoltaic solar panels will begin next year.


“I am honored to join my fellow students tonight in a project that has taken three years and is at its culminating point,” stated Kyle Krueger, President of the Tesoro Conservation club. “I’m honored to see the reality of CUSD solar tonight. Through three years of hard work, meeting with solar energy experts, pitching procurement methods and presenting in this great [board] room, we received powerful support for this reality. You will leave a legacy with this vote for an entire next generation of students, parents, teachers, residents and board members who can benefit from this $21 million [in savings].”


Prior to awarding the contract to REC Solar, district staff received information about solar energy efficiency and generation projects. A timeline is as follows:


  • On July 26, 2017, the Board of Trustees received an informational presentation from ARC Alternatives on the results of a district solar feasibility study, which indicated that the physical sites are ideal for solar projects, with ample space for the systems and accessible utility tie-in locations, and that the project, as modeled, shows net savings to the District and is cash flow positive in all years. The presentation can be found on page 623 of the online agenda, available here.
  • Next on October 11, 2017, the Board of Trustees received an informational presentation from Government Financial Strategies, the District’s financial advisor, on Clean Renewable Energy Bonds and the financing process.
  • On November 8, 2017, the Board of Trustees received an informational presentation from ARC Alternatives on the status of requests for proposals to solar vendors, preliminary results, and the proposed process and timeline leading up to Board consideration of a solar vendor.
  • On December 6, 2017, the Board of Trustees awarded an energy service contract to REC Solar to design, construct, and operate photovoltaic systems. The total contract amount is $18,372,631 including capital cost, performance guarantee, and operations and maintenance.


Moving toward implementation, CUSD will prepare and submit interconnection applications to secure time-of-use (TOU) grandfathering and the design process will begin. The results of the Clean Renewable Energy Bond financing will be presented at the January 24, 2018, board meeting.


CUSD will continue to engage with students, families, faculty, staff and other community members as
the solar project progresses.