Solar Panel Construction to Double Energy Production


Francisco Rogel

Construction in the student parking lot is to install new solar panels.

Katelyn Timple, Opinions Editor

   Construction to install more solar panels intheparkinglotsofUCHighcommenced this summer, a project contributing to the San Diego Unified’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Goals to achieve clean electricity by 2035.

Principal Michael Paredes said, “Simply put, the current construction is the installation of solar panels on campus. When it’s complete, we’ll more than double our current energy production.”

District Facilities Communication Supervisor Samer Naji said, “The UCHS solar project is entirely a
district project. However, the district hires a contractor for the design of the solar panels and its construction.”

Naji said, “We are trying to reduce our carbon emissions and impacts on the climate by building more sustainable facilities and producingmoreclean,renewableenergy. By 2023, half of the energy used by the district will be self-generated, clean solar power, which is a major milestone for climate action.” According to Naji, this solar project is one of 14 currently under construction throughout the school district.

   In a callout sent out to parents and families by Paredes, he said, “This project supports the District’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Goals to increase alternative modes of transportation in student and employee commuting, reduce landfill waste in district operations, increase water efficiency, and achieve 100 perccent clean electricity by 2035.”

   Paredes said in the callout, ”The system is a renewable power source with an annual estimated production of up to 704,614 kWh of electrical energy, which would offset the electrical energy consumption at UCHS.”

Paredes said, “Construction began in the late summer of this year… originally, it was shared that it could have started as early as April or May of 2021. The hope was that the construction wouldn’t interfere with our Class of 2022 graduation, as parking is always a challenge on campus.”

The construction was expected to be completed this semester (fall 2022), but the delayed start has pushed the completion to after winter vacation [towards the end of semester one or early semester two], according to Paredes.

“Construction is sometimes disruptive. However, the project team works closely with the school to minimize impacts to the surrounding community,” said Paredes. Construction activities are mostly planned during weekends, evenings, and school breaks in order to minimize inconveniences for students and staff alike.

   “Our contractors will follow social distancing and safety guidance created by public health authorities and will do their best to limit noise, dust, odors, and disruptions associated with this project. We appreciate your patience and understanding while UCHS is under construction,” said Paredes in the callout.

The school’s water was cut off for several buildings for over a week after construction crews hit a water main. Paredes said, “We’re not exactly sure how [the water main break] occurred, but it’s important to note that the installation of solar panels requires lots of underground boring. The utility lines running underground throughout our campus have been identified and marked clearly. Even so, sometimes things like this occur, unfortunately.”

History Teacher Eduardo Hernández finds the delays in construction unsurprising, acknowledging that these projects “…always take longer than you plan.” Hernández believes the main issue ensuing from the construction is parking. As more students start driving, he believes the school may run out of parking spaces. He added,“If it’s not fixed soon, it’s going to become a big deal.”