Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Sarah Storkin
Observer Staff Writer 

Forward-Thinking Soledad High School is Going Solar, Says School District

Monterrey County School Gests State Approval for Program Projected to Save $4M


September 19, 2016

Soledad USD will save millions in energy costs.

The Soledad Unified School District approved a contract with OpTerra Energy Services, Inc. (OpTerra Energy Services) at its last board meeting of August to design and construct the first solar project at Soledad High School.

The project is funded through a $2 million, zero percent interest loan from the California Energy Commission and is expected to be completed by February 2017.

It is estimated that the project will generate over 745,000 kWh of clean electric energy, which is the equivalent to removing 257 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere annually. The energy savings associated with the project's renewable energy production will save the District approximately $45,000 annually after loan payments – totaling over $4,000,000 in energy savings over the 25-year life of the project.

"Aside from the financial savings, the installation of solar panels at our high school to produce clean electricity represents a tremendous opportunity for the District to help preserve and protect the environment for future generations. It also impacts our local economy as it creates employment opportunities in the green job sector, and supports a homegrown energy source," said Mr. Cesar Vega, Chief Business Official for the District.

"The Board of Trustees is very excited to move forward with this project. We take pride in our ongoing leadership and vision regarding energy conservation, reducing our energy costs, and setting a positive example of sustainability for our students," stated School Board President Marie Berlanga.

The solar project is the first step in a comprehensive energy program that the District hopes will leverage State of California Proposition 39 funding provided to every public school district for energy efficiency upgrades. The potential scope of a district-wide project would include solar at all District sites and upgrading interior and exterior lighting with LED technology which dramatically reduces energy costs and improves the learning environment and campus safety.

"The District is pleased that the State of California has become a partner with Soledad schools to meet our sustainability goals. We are also excited to be partnering with OpTerra Energy Services on this initial project at Soledad High School. We chose OpTerra as a partner based on their successful track record in the region with several Monterey County school districts, cities, and Hartnell College," commented Interim Superintendent Jorge Z. Guzman.

"The OpTerra team is proud to support the District's implementation of the solar project at Soledad High School. Our core values as a company are centered on doing more than just modernizing facilities and engineering technical solutions – our work with Soledad will help the District improve its classroom and learning environments and be an environmental leader in the communities in which its students live," shared OpTerra CEO John Mahoney.

The Board of Trustees approved the project concept at its March 9, 2016 meeting and OpTerra Energy Services was selected through a competitive procurement process in April, 2016. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

About Soledad Unified School District: The Soledad Unified School District is located in Monterey County in the heart of the Salinas Valley. The district serves approximately 4,900 students in grades K- 12. There are 5 elementary schools, 1 middle school, 1 comprehensive high school and 1 continuation high school. The District's website can be found at

OpTerra Energy Services

OpTerra Energy Services: Building the Sustainable Energy Economy.

About OpTerra Energy Services: OpTerra Energy Services is a national energy company that works with education, local government, commercial, industrial, and institutional organizations to implement efficiency and sustainable energy solutions that save money, enhance safety, improve assets, and protect the environment. As a subsidiary of ENGIE S.A., the number one energy efficiency services provider in the world, OpTerra Energy Services provides a unique and extensive set of energy and sustainability management services to thousands of customers across the U.S. The company has provided more than $2 billion in energy savings for its customers over the past 40 years. To learn more, please visit or contact Lani Wild, Communications Manager, at 415-735-9080.


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