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MDUSD and SunPower celebrate completion of 40 solar power projects

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 at 12:25 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

In just over 30 minutes, Mt. Diablo school district officials will join SunPower executives and invited guests to celebrate the installation of what is being touted as the largest K-12 solar project in the country.

Here is the news release sent about the project by SunPower this morning:

“Mount Diablo Unified School District Installs SunPower Solar Systems at 51 Schools, Saving $220 Million Over 30 Years

Largest Commitment to Solar by a School District in the US

CONCORD and SAN JOSE, Calif., May 1, 2012 – Today, Mount Diablo Unified School District and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) are celebrating the completion of 40 SunPower solar power systems planned for district schools and facilities. When the total number of 51 systems is complete later this year, the systems are expected to reduce the district’s electricity costs by more than $3 million per year, and save $220 million over the next 30 years. With a cumulative capacity of 12.1 megawatts, the project is creating more than 140 jobs during construction and injecting almost $24 million into the regional economy through the use of local subcontractors and suppliers.

‘With this project, we will eliminate 92 percent of electrical cost from our general fund in the first year alone and generate additional financial resources from the California Solar Initiative. This will help preserve desperately needed financial resources for our schools and classrooms,’ says School Board Member Gary Eberhart. ‘Saving our schools’ money while reducing emissions is the right thing to do for our students and the environment. We are very excited to team with SunPower to bring the largest K-12 solar project in the country to fruition.’

SunPower is installing the system on rooftops and shade structures in parking lots and hard court areas. The systems use high efficiency SunPower solar panels, the most efficient panels on the market today, which are manufactured locally in Milpitas, California. All systems are expected to be complete and operational before the end of the year.

‘The completion of the largest solar school project in the U.S., delivering electric bill savings of more than 90 percent at 51 schools, represents a major milestone in our industry. The Mount Diablo Unified School District selected SunPower to deliver the world’s highest performing solar systems for its schools, in partnership with great local firms,’ said Howard Wenger, president, regions for SunPower. ‘The district has established a high standard for clean energy investments on school facilities. As a California company, with roots firmly in California education, it is extremely rewarding to deliver needed savings to our public schools.’

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mount Diablo Unified’s solar power systems will avoid production of almost 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years, the equivalent of removing 70,450 cars from California’s highways.

In addition to the financial and environmental benefits, the partnership between Mount Diablo Unified School District and SunPower is directly benefiting the district’s high school students through resources SunPower is providing to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.

The school district’s systems were financed through Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) secured under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, paid through a local, voter approved general obligation bond.

About Mount Diablo Unified School District

Nestled at the base of Mount Diablo in the suburban East San Francisco Bay Area, the Mount Diablo Unified School District can be characterized as a representative California microcosm. Mount Diablo is one of the largest school districts in the state of California, with over 56 school sites and programs. The district’s statistics for ethnic/racial diversity, average class size, test scores, numbers of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and the primary languages they represent, mirror those for the State of California as a whole.

About SunPower Corp.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) designs, manufactures and delivers the highest efficiency, highest reliability solar panels and systems available today. Residential, business, government and utility customers rely on the company’s quarter century of experience and guaranteed performance to provide maximum return on investment throughout the life of the solar system. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia. For more information, visit

SunPower is a registered trademark of SunPower Corp. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.”

I have contacted SunPower to try to find out specifically what resources will be offered to MDUSD teachers and students to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.

SunPower offered summer internships to San Ramon Valley district students as part of its solar installation there. It’s unclear whether it will offer similar opportunities to MDUSD students.

What kind of resources do you think would benefit MDUSD students to help them learn about the solar installations at their schools?

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24 Responses to “MDUSD and SunPower celebrate completion of 40 solar power projects”

  1. g Says:

    “…what resources will be offered to MDUSD teachers and students to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year”.

    Pat answer: Look at all they can do with the money saved on electricity bills: i.e. pay raises for management; pay raises for management assistants; contract increases for the largest bevy of legal firms in the industry; more consultants; more conference vacations; Oh, and an endless supply of erasable markers for the students. No, scratch that last one–those comes out of the teacher’s pockets.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    G, sorry but you forgot all the new I-pads and custom covers being sported by Dent administrators ! Those new I-pads are really helping the children at Sun Terrace aren’t they ?

  3. Seriously... Says:

    Who are the subcontractors?

  4. Jim Says:

    Theresa, your article in today’s CC Times repeats MDUSD’s assertion that the SunPower project “expenditure is estimated to save the district $220 million over 30 years.” So even though the purported savings are currently $3 million per year, they will actually AVERAGE over $7 million per year over the next 30 years (assuming that the district doesn’t keep shrinking at the current pace, that the solar panels last so much longer than their warrantied useful life, and of course, assuming no problems with the solar rebates — you know, the kinds that are being slashed left and right in Europe because of the debt crisis there…).

    Have we all decided to accept that $220 million figure to avoid criticism from the Green Propaganda Machine? Or is this just a case that “if something is repeated often enough, it eventually becomes the truth”?

  5. g Says:

    Jim: What I can’t figure out from their figures is this: Is the $220million NET? Or is that the savings on utilities only, with total disregard of the approximately $180million we will end up paying over the next 30 years or so to have it installed.

  6. Jim Says:

    G — I’m not aware of MDUSD, or any public school district for that matter, doing that type of financial return calculation. They do not usually think much about “present value” (i.e. including the time value of money) or the cost of capital, as business must do. When they borrow for projects like this, it’s just cheap, “found” money. Their figures are based only on energy savings and rebates. In their minds, $220 million in (unverified) savings is worth $180 million in (possibly understated) costs. Impacts like interest costs, reduced borrowing capacity for other (possibly superior) projects, or reduced public appetite for real financial boosters like a parcel tax just don’t enter into it.

    The $220 figure is PR. The real game is getting big spending projects where you can spread the moolah around and build constituencies for your next election. Alas, revenue from a parcel tax just gets spent in the classrooms and has little political value. (Although I think it pays off big time in home values, but that’s just me…)

  7. Anon Says:

    According to Paul Strange (at the 6/22/2010 Board Meeting) the MDUSD solar project is far better than the SRVSD solar project because MDUSD doesn’t have any debt service. Yeah right!

    Also the only way you get to $220mil is to use over-inflated growth rates on the projected solar savings and an overall term (30yrs) that goes out well beyond the guarantee/warranty. The return on investment to the taxpayer is a lousy deal. It is a money laundering program to convert capital improvement dollars into the general fund dollars.

    In theory it is an interesting “out of the box” thought but in reality it is costly, the long-term projections increase risk, and the project has the potential to be obsolete long before the over-inflated projections reach maturity.

    They should have put the same amount of energy into a parcel tax but then there wouldn’t be any pre-election photo ops for the local politicians if it were just a parcel tax.

  8. Seriously... Says:

    I just don’t understand the $220 million savings….if the state knows your operating costs are lower due to a solar project…can’t they just cut funding for schools by the amount of PG&E savings? So if there are impending cuts to solar schools by the state…is there really any savings from solar? If the state does not fund schools based on actual expenditures, perhaps the schools funding model should be revamped.

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim: The article says that is an estimate. It was provided by the district and SunPower. I believe Pete Pedersen has explained how he came up with that number at board meetings. It includes the $3 million a year for five years of CSI credits. It also assumes that PG&E rates will continue to go up, so the savings gets bigger as that happens.
    In the glossy SunPower “case study” distributed at the event, the estimate is cited as “$220 million” in two places and as “more than $200 million” and “over $200 million” in two other places. So, it looks like even SunPower isn’t solidly behind the $220 million estimate.
    I have asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence and SunPower exec. Bill Kelly if the public can have access to the online solar monitoring so we can see for ourselves how much energy is being produced. Both said that shouldn’t be a problem, although it hasn’t been set up yet for public view. Right now, Northgate’s AP Environmental Sciences teacher told me he can only access it online by using a password.

    Seriously, the subcontractor is Taber Contruction, which was identified as the construction management firm. Also, the state funds districts per student. So, if the district is saving money on electricity, it can use that for other things.

    Anon: SRV’s project design is better than MDUSD’s, since its solar panels move to follow the sun. MDUSD’s, on the other hand, are in fixed positions on top of carports. Therefore, SRV’s are likely to be more efficient.

    I have uploaded video at (first part of ceremony) and (second half of ceremony). I apologize for all the camera movement. I was trying to take notes while videotaping.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Ironic that the “Sun Terrace” crisis has “overshadowed” the “Solar Project” idol worship. Also ironic that Gary’s lack of anger management skills has probably benefitted the children at Sun Terrace — Lawrence was even seen visiting the school and classes, and all resources of SASS are being redirected and focused on trying to determine and evaluate “where the children stand academically” in reading and math with little instruction for the last four months or more. On May 3, the parents still don’t know where their children stand academically — will these children and classes be held back for a year or “advanced”. With all of this sudden pressure, and STAR testing, the environment has become CHAOTIC at best. There is no academic plan in place yet, and substitute teachers have not been trained in the “methods” supposed to be employed in the SASS plans. It appears pretty clear the Principal is being swept to the side while SASS personnel “take over” and give direction. I just don’t know how Lawrence, Lock, and SASS has any realistic expectation of “bringing the children up to speed” in just 3 weeks of the remaining instructional time when Sun Terrace has been failing for at least 4 months or more.

  11. Anon Says:

    must be a typo on page 36 overestimating TH’s age

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Since my oldest child is 28, that lends credibility to the accuracy of the age. But thanks!

    Dr. J: I am getting daily calls about Sun Terrace. But the complaints are not only academic.
    It is also ironic that former Principal Felicia Stuckey-Smith is now overseeing the district’s anti-bullying policy. During a PowerPoint presentation she recently presented to the CAC, she said the district does not tolerate bullying and any allegations of bullying should be reported to a school principal. If a parent doesn’t believe the principal is following up appropriately, Stuckey-Smith said the parent should contact her. I don’t know if any parents have done that or if they are aware of this district policy. Yet, the first-hand accounts I’ve heard regarding the principal’s behavior toward some students and staff could be characterized as bullying.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#12 Which school principal do you report a District Administrator or Board member to ? Can you give us a link to the District policy ? Has the Board adopted the policy ?

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Felicia Stuckey-Smith is the point person, according to the PowerPoint:
    The district policy covering bullying is 5145.4. Although it only appears to directly address bullying by students, the Administrative Rule does not specify who the perpetrators are.
    It says: “The Governing Board prohibits bullying at any location or activity under the jurisdiction of the school system.”
    It also states: “Bullying will not be tolerated, ever.”
    Anyone who wishes to report bullying (which must be investigated according to Board Policy) can contact Stuckey-Smith at 682-8000 ext. 4069.

  15. Jim Says:

    Could someone please explain when the normal threats and intimidation practiced on a daily basis by the MDUSD leadership finally rise to the level of “bullying”? If the anti-bullying rhetoric is suddenly going to be applied to the adults in the system, then I suggest an immediate upgrade to the capacity of Ms. Stuckey-Smith’s voicemail and email in box.

    As far as I’m concerned, much of the CVCHS episode was characterized by bullying — of the teachers, the families in the feeder pattern, the principals who were forced to testify in public when they had no earthly reason to do so, etc. Heck, the whole DISTRICT was bullied with the supposed “revenue loss” that was never substantiated. Go to almost any board meeting and watch Cheryl Hansen get bullied, with words as well as with the “the silent treatment”. The Measure C “Oversight” Committee seems to enjoy bullying Alice and any other potential speakers of truth to power. (And this is just what we see in public. As we all know, bullies often save their worst intimidation for private encounters, with no witnesses.) We’re just so used to it that it has become “the new normal”.

    Let’s face it: these guys play rough. They feel entitled to their monopoly perquisites, and they can turn nasty with anyone who thinks that at least a little bit of the money and power to educate our children ought to reside elsewhere.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You are talking about adults allegedly bullying adults.
    But some of the accounts I’m hearing about Sun Terrace involve the principal allegedly denying food to children, snatching hats off their heads and referring to one kindergartner as a “bad, bad girl” in front of the student and her classmates.
    Should principals be allowed to behave this way toward students?

  17. Anon Says:

    To Jim’s point, niether should the adults. Gary Eberhart purposely refuses to 2nd a motion by Cheryl Hansen even if it is a motion he would have made himself. It is childish bullying and pettiness from those we look to to lead this District, it is shameful. Since 2008 bullying appears to be part of the MDUSD culture. We should be outraged when a Principal behaves in that manner toward a child, but we should not be surprised. It starts at the top.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Cheryl Hansen’s Agenda Items intentionally left off AGAIN ! Pure bullying by Whitmarsh, Eberhart and Lawrence ! Its pretty clear why Lawrence wanted this bogus “study session” on the budget on May 7 — Linda Mayo is down in Anaheim. Leads one to question who all is involved in the bullying — does it extend beyond Whitmarsh, Eberhart and Lawrence ?

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have received word that an elementary principal has asked her school community not to acknowledge Teacher Appreciation Week with any mementos for teachers. I haven’t yet confirmed this, but the parent who sent the information appears to be outraged.

  20. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    TH #19,

    Is this the Sun Terrace principal?

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:


  22. Doctor J Says:

    How fascinating what happens when a public figure gets caught lying about his college degree. I wonder if this type of thing could hit “close to home” ?

  23. andrew Says:

    At Dr J #: two other bullies are Rolen and b. Richards. Hansen is not the only victim-every public member in this district is a victim and that’s why Hansen is the target, because she truly is attempting to represent her constituents. Every employee is being bullied because as Anon #17 stated – it starts at the top.

  24. Wait a Minute Says:

    I would highly recommend that if anyone in the MDUSD is trying to intimidate or bully you that you:

    #1 File a complaint with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing,
    for anyone holding a credential.

    For Rolen, you need to file a complaint with the State Bar,

    #2 File a complaint to the CCC Grand Jury,

    #3 File a Uniform Complaint with the MDUSD and appeal it to the State Dpt of Ed if the MDUSD blows it off in any way,

    #4 Let Theresa know so she can get it into the public domain through this blog or another article/editorial on the CCC Times.

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