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California district cancels plans for solar installation

Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified District says lower-than-anticipated electricity rates have wiped out prospects for cost savings.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula (Calif.) Unified School District has reversed its plans and will not install solar panels at many of its buildings.

The school board had been scheduled to vote later this month on the proposed project, but the district says it has decided not to proceed with the installation because a reduction in electric utility rates has wiped out the anticipated financial benefits of the solar panels.

"A recent reduction in rates from Southern California Edison of 8 percent, instead of a previously forecast 5 percent increase, has created a situation where the financial benefits of the agreement would not be realized for several years," The district says in a news release. "While the fiscal impact of the project is still positive over the long term, with short term benefits eliminated, the project is not viable at the current time."

The district, situated in southwest Los Angeles County, had planned into enter into a 25-year power purchase agreement with PFMG Solar to install photovoltaic panels at 16 of 18 schools, The Daily Breeze reports.

The proposal had triggered opposition from some district patrons who objected to the lack of community input and competitive bidding on the project.

District leaders say they hope to revisit the possibility of installing solar panels if economic conditions warrant.

"There will be a day when solar power and electricity storage are the right answer for [the district] and our taxpayers," Board President Malcolm Sharp says, "When that time comes, we will be ready and educated. Energy conservation remains a priority of the district."

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