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District plans to install solar panels throughout its three campuses

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A map presented by Rod Oathout demonstrates the potential locations for the solar panels Oct. 5 (Jennipher Vasquez | Viewpoints)
By Jennipher Vasquez

The Riverside Community College District is working to install solar panels for all three of its campuses by April of 2024. 

RCCD’s Board of Trustees were first introduced to the project in December 2020 and received a full financial analysis of feasibility earlier this year. The district is now in the procurement phase, or the process of acquiring the installations.

Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Planning and Development Hussain Agah presented the project in three parts to the Board Oct. 5, stating that there has been significant progress since the meeting in February. 

“We met with multiple owners who have successfully implemented solar projects on their campuses,” Agah said. “Including UCR, Chaffey College, San Bernardino Community College District, Saddleback (College) — and we learned some of their lessons learned about the procurement for government code 4217.”

Government code 4217, defined by Senior Account Executive at Southland Energy Dominic Cardenas in an article for The Big Room, is a procurement code that allows public agencies to enter into a range of services related to infrastructure improvements such as energy conservation and generation. It also allows for agencies to pick their vendor partner based on their own criteria.

Agah said the Board must go over the solar implementation proposal and find that it meets the district’s goals for financial, social, educational and environmental sustainability. They must also conclude if moving forward with the project will exceed the anticipated costs without implementation. 

“Before the district staff recommends the contract to the Board of Trustees,” Agah said. “The goal here is that once we receive requests for statements of qualification we will review them extensively and analyze the financial metrics, the total cost of ownership, return on investment and bring the successful contract that meets or exceeds the RFP requirement and achieve the mission for this project.”

He added that the financial analysis presented to the Board on Feb. 2 by Rod Oathout, Global Energy Services Leader from the DLR Group, were numbers based on assumptions and estimates. The district is set to present accurate, larger numbers in the near future. 

“We’re in the business (of) understanding what potential costs are,” Oathout said. “For rooftops arrays, for arrays that are part of car ports, for standalone canopies that might be on your parking structures, ground mounts and battery storage.” 

He said monetary assumptions were made based on potential costs for those factors, including operation and maintenance costs for solar battery equipment all based on kilowatt or watt basis. 

Oathout presented a map of possible locations for solar panels on each RCCD campus.

Ground mounts and carports are mapped out to be used at the Moreno Valley campus and mostly ground mounts at Norco College with few rooftop locations. Riverside City College, however, would have a combination of canopies, ground mounts and carports. The district offices in downtown Riverside along with the Ben Clark Center would each potentially have canopy and rooftop solar panel arrays. 

Following the findings of the Board of Trustees and final contract agreements, the execution stage of the project is predicted to begin in April 2022 and continue through April 2024.

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