By Natalie MAIER
A meeting regarding the solar panels at Monte Visa Elementary was held on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Teachers Lounge at the school. Neighborhood residents Bill Ryburn and Sheila Sinning, who both live adjacent to the schoolyard where the panels have been installed, shared some of their concerns with Monte Vista principal Susan Hoge, GUSD Facilities Planning, Development and Support Operations Administrator Alan Reising, and GUSD Construction Manager Gary Weinstein.
Monte Vista isn’t the only GUSD School to have solar panels installed. Clark Magnet High School, Mark Keppel Elementary and Columbus Elementary, Crescenta Valley High School, Rosemont Middle School and Mountain Avenue Elementary have had panels installed as well. The energy the panels create produces electricity, and over a period of 30 years, GUSD will save approximately $18 million on utilities. In the first year alone, the school district will save $540,000 in electricity, according to Reising.
The meeting began with the residents voicing their concerns about the lights, which are mounted underneath the panels, that radiate into their backyard. Ryburn compared the incandescent light to a giant full moon, while Sinning explained that her whole backyard “glows.” The lights, which have been operational for two weeks, were built intentionally to benefit the school and were not meant to be on 24/7, said Reising. The matter was settled when Reising and the residents agreed that the lights would only be used for school activities or functions, otherwise they would be shut off.
The color of the polls supporting the solar panels was another matter of interest to Ryburn and Sinning. Currently the polls are painted Horizon Blue, but the neighbors wanted a more natural color. Reising brought samples of potential colors, but explained if they were to paint over the blue, the new color would eventually peel off, exposing the under color. In the end, the residents agreed to keep the blue.
“I can work with the blue. It is the district’s property,” Ryburn said.
In addition to the clean energy being produced, the panels have been providing shade for the children. Hoge said that the children like to go outside to play and they are now able to take breaks underneath the panels. Last Friday, Hoge said that the children watched the space shuttle Endeavour underneath the panels to stay cool.
Due to the recent hot weather, it has been an added benefit, she said.