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Flip the Switch -- Inaugurating Our Solar Project

Rico addressing crowd

The Alisal Union School District celebrated the completion of its energy renovation project on Nov. 15 with a "flip the switch" ceremony. Guest included Trustee Noemi Armenta, Salinas Union High School District Superintendent Dan Burns, Salinas United Business Association Executive Director Alejandro Chavez, Engie Regional Manager Emily Douglas, and many others. 

“Flipping the Switch,” represents the start of new savings for the District and taxpayers. The project is making Alisal USD more energy efficient through the installation of solar panels at ten of schools and the Whole Child Division, as well as the modernization of HVAC systems at three schools and upgraded lights and light fixtures throughout the district. The event took place under a solar panel canopy installed at Monte Bella Elementary. Eleven of our schools now have solar canopies either in the parking lot or the playground.

Our Thursday ceremony featured an address by Alisal USD Superintendent Hector Rico, Ms. Armenta, and Ms. Douglas. Our Alisal All Star Drumline and Color Guard closed down the ceremony with a performance. We also heard from five Monte Bella students as they made presentations on what the project means to them and what their class has been doing to protect the environment. They even featured the event for a special edition of their newscast. 


AUSD leaders partnered with ENGIE Services U.S. (ENGIE) to design and install the new energy program and enhance learning environments in the summer of 2018. The energy savings from the new lighting, controls, and solar installations will help cover the cost of the project and allowed for HVAC retrofits at three sites. Additional savings will then be redirected back into the classroom. Another key tenet of this program is the District’s vision for an innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program to integrate the real-world energy upgrades happening across District campuses into curriculum and initiatives. As part of the project, Engie Energie has begun training our educators to bring science and engineering lessons to the classrooms that incorporate the New Science Standards.

The entire project will cost a little more than $11.7 million, which will be paid for with savings generated through the use of solar power. The District will reduce its electricity bill by more than $400,000 annually, or more than $10.9 million over the lifetime of the program.

Alisal Union leveraged $2.2 million in California state Prop 39 funding to fund the program and $120,000 in utility rebates and secured funds from a tax-exempt lease purchase. No upfront capital investment was required and the energy savings created from the upgrades will cover financing costs.

For more photos of the event, click here and here