District seeks public input on modified proposal for solar panels at University High School

Back in July, the IUSD Board of Education approved the second phase of an ambitious effort to harness solar energy, green-lighting plans to add vehicle shade structures topped with photovoltaic panels to the parking lots of nine campuses, including University High School. When you combine both phases of the unique power-purchasing agreement, the districts expects to save about $500,000 a year with no upfront capital costs.

Construction at Uni has been scheduled for the summer of 2013, with the shade structures to be positioned along Campus Drive. However, a recent analysis of the plan has determined that there is not enough district-owned property along Campus Drive to accommodate the project as proposed. IUSD is therefore seeking feedback on a modified proposal that would install smaller structures along Campus Drive while adding a limited number of vehicle shade structures to the parking lot that faces Culver Drive.

IUSD actively pursued community input during both phases of its solar initiative, recognizing that there’s always a potential to impact neighborhood aesthetics as well as the perspectives of nearby homes. During the second phase alone, thousands of notices were mailed to homes within a quarter-mile radius of the proposed sites, as well as to residents in connecting neighborhoods. In addition, the district emailed nearly 19,000 residents, posted detailed information on its website and shared updates via the NewsFlash, Facebook and Twitter.

With the proposed changes to Uni, IUSD will once again solicit feedback from local residents, who are encouraged to view updated site renderings and add their comments on this webpage before Monday, March 4, which is the deadline for input.

Note that even with an altered plan, installation would take place over the summer and would not affect the construction of Uni’s athletic facility.

The board will review the latest solar proposal at its March 5 meeting. In the meantime, residents with any questions are encouraged to contact Donna Jordan in IUSD’s Facilities Planning Department at 949-936-5306.