No end in sight for solar project
There’s still no completion date for the long-awaited photovoltaic project at the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, but one official is hoping it will be within a month.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese told the board that, at this point, there’s still no final date on when the system will be complete. Started last June with a hoped-for completion in August before school opened, the project may wrap up by the time school lets out – a full year after it started.
The program has been plagued with delays, some of which were caused by the Division of the State Architect in approving the shade structure panels.
Frese said the completion date depends largely on when the contractor, Roebbelen, finishes wiring and testing the units, and after that, a walk-through and testing must be done by PG&E.
“There are several layers of inspections,” Frese said. “The contractor and their subcontractors do certain tests and inspections. We do inspections as well. And I believe PG&E also does inspections during their interconnection process.”
Frese said the two sites that are closest to completion are the units at Dunbar Elementary School and at the Sonoma Charter School.
“The systems will be brought online one at a time. Although we consider this to be one large project, PG&E looks at each site as a separate project with a separate meter,” he said.
Frese has been meeting with the contractor on a weekly basis, and said the company is getting the final panels set.
One part of the project that Roebbelen needs to finish is lowering the panels at the solar field on Railroad Avenue by the school district offices. “The work is in the hands of Roebbelen at this point, as we have told them what we want and they are working to get a solution in the next two weeks. Once we have an approved plan, the work should happen pretty quickly,” he said.
Not only do the panels have to be lowered, the district will have to put in some new landscaping, as the gophers have been munching on the plants. In addition to the landscaping, the district will be talking with a pest professional to do something about the gophers.
In other business, the board finalized numerous cuts of both certificated (teachers) and classified personnel.
At the March 5 meeting, the board decided to eliminate the equivalent of 26.8 full-time positions, but because of sufficient retirements and the teachers union agreeing to eight furlough days, the number of FTEs was cut to 12.2.
Frese said that because of the retirements, furlough days and the release of certificated temporary employees, no layoff notices were sent to regular staff.
The board also eliminated the equivalent of 28 FTEs classified employees and cut some positions from 12-month contracts to 11-month contracts.
This was all done as part of the budget reductions the board made back in January, cutting almost $2.6 million from the budget.