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Sounding Off: Here are the missing Dwyer solar facts

March 16, 2011|By Steve West

Huntington Beach City School District board member Celia Jaffe's letter to the Independent titled "More information about Dwyer's solar arrays" (Community Commentary, Feb. 10) failed to include some very important facts the community should know about the solar panel project at Dwyer Middle School.

Fact: Prior to making the decision to place two photovoltaic solar panel structures, which are 138 feet long, 32 feet deep and 13 feet tall, directly in front of Dwyer, a local historic landmark, the district did not actively seek community input or validation for its solar panel placement ideas. The district did not issue a single press release, contact the local newspapers, contact the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., contact the HB Neighbors, post a photograph of the plans on the district website, use its automated phone system, send an e-mail blast to the PTSA, or survey the students or the school staff.

Because of the lack of effort by the district to get the community involved, most people did not find out about the solar panel placement at Dwyer before it was too late, and purportedly too expensive to change the plans to a different location.

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Fact: Community members attempted to get the board to delay the project so we could raise funds, or work with the board to find other ways to move the solar panels to a more suitable location than our grassy open field in the front of Dwyer. On Jan. 11, the board voted 4 to 1 to ignore hundreds of school board meeting attendees and more than two hours of public comment specifically requesting the panels to be moved from the front of the school to another location.

Fact: The photovoltaic assessment, a study performed in 2009 by Chevron for the district, did not include results for any front-of-school location for the solar panels at Dwyer. Front-of-school locations were simply not studied in the assessment.

Fact: The photovoltaic assessment rated the bus lot at Dwyer with a 99% rating, which is tied for the highest rating of any location at any school listed in the entire study.

Fact: The district used a loophole in the law specifically for solar projects to award a no-bid contract to Chevron in the amount of almost $8 million.

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