Spirits were high at Lincoln Elementary on Tuesday morning, as the Redondo Beach Unified School District formally broke ground on its highly anticipated solar energy project.
Funded by Measure Q – a $63 million general obligation bond program voters approved in 2012 – the project is expected to save the district up to $15 million over 25 years.
“Measure Q is what’s making this possible,” RBUSD board president Laura Emdee said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “With that bond measure, we’re going to be able to build solar panels. The biggest thing that excites me aside from the fact that it’s great for our environment… is it’s going to save us $500,000 a year for our operation costs.”
Energy company PsomasFMG is installing the solar panels, which are projected to ultimately reduce the district’s energy consumption by 70 percent.
“That’s a very big deal,” PsomasFMG executive vice president Alex Smith said. “That electricity is going to come from clean, green, solar energy and also going to save a ton of money for the general fund.”
“This, of course, is groundbreaking for the community here, and it’s also another example of why Redondo Beach Unified School District is the finest district in the South Bay,” Superintendent Steven Keller said. “We’re out in front. We’re a very progressive district. We do what’s best for the kids in the community and I think this is a perfect example.”
The project is part of a broader effort to increase RBUSD’s reliance on renewable sources of energy. Other components include a solar-heated pool at RUHS, low-wattage lights, artificial turf fields, a light-reflecting chemical on all roofs, and even waterless urinals.
“As a superintendent, I couldn’t be any prouder,” Keller said.
The project has other, less obvious benefits, said energy consultant Peter Phinney.
Shading the carport keeps vehicles cool and reduces the “urban heat island effect,” which means buildings nearby need less energy to cool down.
“This district is leading by example, and leading by example is probably the most valuable teaching tool that we’ve got. So pay attention to what your district is doing,” Phinney said to the kids present at Tuesday’s ceremony, “because you guys are future leaders of Los Angeles and the United States and by showing you how it’s important to be sustainable and think about our planet and its resources we hope that you’ll grow up in an environment that’s significantly better than the one I grew up in and the ones your kids grow up in will be even better.”