Solar panels to power Noe Valley school

As more people and businesses clamor for alternative energy sources, Noe Valley’s Alvarado Elementary is paving the way for San Francisco public schools.

The dual immersion Spanish-English public school is set to become the first in The City to install solar panels to generate a significant portion of their power.

The panels will harness the sun’s energy to give the school a major boost in cutting their electricity bills. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which would maintain the panels, estimates they would generate up to 50 kilowatts to fill about 40 percent of the school’s power demands.

Other schools may also be shifting to solar power in a citywide clean energy project. A resolution introduced in early March by Supervisor Scott Wiener would authorize the PUC to install and maintain solar panels on San Francisco Unified School District buildings. Currently the resolution is pending approval.

The PUC decided on Alvarado Elementary after researching roof conditions at city schools. The school receives a large amount of direct sunlight and has a strong enough roof to handle the weight of the panels.

Supervisor Wiener told the Noe Valley Voice he was excited to see the program spread to other city schools:

“Numerous schools have flat roofs and significant sunlight exposure. These roofs provide a great opportunity to increase solar power generation in San Francisco while greening our schools.”

The PUC estimates the installation at Alvarado will cost around $500,000 and hopefully be completed by early fall.

Alvarado Principal Robert Broecker said the solar panels would provide a great opportunity for students to learn about alternative energy.

The school has over 500 students and has already been incorporating environmental learning in their teaching including hands-on gardening, rainwater collection, and composting.