By Mary O’KEEFE
The Glendale Unified School District continued its community outreach meetings concerning solar construction at local Crescenta Valley campuses.
On Tuesday two meetings were held, the first at Rosemont Middle School and the second an hour later at Clark Magnet High School.
Deputy Superintendent John Garcia, Chief Business/Financial Officer Eva Lueck, Public Information Officer Steven Frasher and Faculty and Support Operations Director Alan Reising conducted the meeting where they displayed photos of what installed solar panels would look like and the plans for panel locations.
Residents listened to the district officials who answered questions from the group. Some residents, however, were concerned that these outreach meetings began taking place well after the construction at local campuses started.
Many in the community, at other meetings, had voiced their concern over panel placement, not only because of their affect on the sightlines of homes but emissions from the solar panels in proximity to children and homes.
District officials have taken full responsibility for the lack of communication with neighbors and have promised to continue discussions with residents, and to be more diligent in their notification process. They also promised that in the future they would make certain to communicate with residents prior to construction projects or programs.
Residents near Rosemont Middle School were pleased to hear of the district’s change in policy in communicating with them but were not completely won over by the promises. However the meetings and outreach efforts will continue.
The solar panels will be placed between the upper and lower soccer fields on the Rosemont campus and at the north top end of the amphitheater seating.
Reising explained the solar construction will be in the rocky area between those two fields and at the lowest, due to the rake of the location, will be six feet with the highest end of the panel at 20 feet. The panels are 38 feet wide, or deep, and will stretch 300 feet.
“We will then come back [after construction] and landscape [below the] panels,” Reising said.
The panels that will be over the amphitheater will be 20 feet wide and 105 feet long.
The amphitheater will get priority construction so it can be completed by the time school begins.
One resident was concerned about the cost of the project, which for all affected CV schools is a total cost of $7.2 million. The money comes out of the Measure S bond that was approved by voters and is a project one resident said she had not heard mentioned during the campaign for the bond.
“You asked us what projects we would like here and I don’t remember solar power being part of it,” she added.
But Lueck said solar had always been a component of the Measure S funds.
“We did promote energy efficiency and solar,” Lueck said.
She also pointed out that the timing of going solar is important for the district’s saving. The district was able to take advantage of a Southern California Edison rebate program which will allocate about $1 million over five years.
“That program is ending and we had to really push to get into their program,” Lueck said.
In addition, Lueck explained that although the project will take about 15 years to pay off, the savings that the district will incur would be about $110,000 annually.
“That $110,000 is equivalent to saving one teacher position,” Lueck said.
Residents were still concerned over emissions. Reising said the district had researched the effects of the electromagnetic field (EMF) through the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory and have found that solar panels produce weaker EMF than household appliances.
One resident who lives near Monte Vista was still not convinced of the safety and wanted more specific studies done on the local schools.
At the end of the meeting, Garcia said the residents would be notified of when construction would take place at Rosemont, specifically the drilling of the holes for the poles that will hold the solar panels in place.
The district has a solar informational page on their website at www.gusd.net; click on Solar Update.