County school district may turn to sun for power

The board of trustees of the San Mateo Union High School District will hold a special meeting tonight to complete years of discussions about how to include solar power at district campuses.

Liz McManus, deputy superintendent of business services, said the board of trustees will discuss ways to reduce utility bills at all nine schools and a possible test site for solar panels.

“School districts in the state have immense [fiscal] challenges,” McManus said. “If we invest in solar, we want to be sure it’s a good investment long term.”

Linda Lees Dwyer, board of trustees vice president, said she’s in favor of using solar power, but wants to be sure the technology gives the district the results it seeks.

The cost and a timeline for when panels would be installed is unknown and depends on board decisions on the matter, McManus said.

The special session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the district’s adult school, located on the San Mateo High School campus near the intersection of Humboldt Street and Poplar Avenue.

Board President Peter Hanley said he’s open to the idea of alternative energy, but he wants to ensure it’s the right investment.

“I’ve got an open mind right now,” Hanley said. “Solar is very expensive still, but electricity isn’t getting any cheaper.”

Elementary schools in Daly City and Burlingame are also considering solar farms to cut energy costs.

The San Mateo Union High School District also requires the use of green building materials on new construction. New biotech classrooms at Mills High School and the music building at San Mateo High were made under those green requirements, McManus said.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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