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Flipping the switch: The Children’s School goes completely solar

The Children’s School on Torrey Pines Lane in La Jolla is sporting new solar panels and is generating 100 percent of its own power, thanks to a private donor and the completion of a multiyear project.

“It is a project that’s very important to us,” said John Fowler, head of school for TCS, which serves 220 students in preschool through eighth grade, with all classes on campus and an estimated 15 percent to 20 percent of students opting for a distance learning curriculum due to pandemic-related concerns.

TCS started “seriously working” to convert to solar-powered energy about two years ago, he said. “It’s something that I’ve always really been interested in. I’ve done a lot of environmental work at other schools that I’ve [worked].”

Fowler said he received support from parents in the community with experience in “contract work who were really helpful in getting the project going.”

Company BVI Solar installed the panels, Fowler said, with the permit approved and connection to SDG&E confirmed in July. The project cost $165,000, funded entirely through one anonymous private donor.

The power generated currently meets “100 percent of the school’s” electrical needs, he said, noting “it’s a net generation. In the summer, the system is actually producing significantly more electricity than we need. In the winter, it might be producing somewhat less, but over the course of a year, it’s generated the equivalent of 100 percent of our needs.”

Fowler said he believes TCS is the only private school in the county that is all solar-powered. “We want to be a leader in the community and show that small organizations and businesses can meet their electrical needs through a renewable source.”

The students are also learning about the power of solar. “We want to show our kids that when we talk about environmental stewardship, we mean it. It’s not just words,” he said.

The project, Fowler said, also benefits the community and world. “We are reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is going into the atmosphere. There’s no reason to continue to use fossil fuels to generate electricity when we don’t need to. For those of us who are fortunate enough to be in these places with a tremendous amount of sunshine, there’s absolutely no reason not to do this. If we had paid for the system ourselves, it would still have paid back the school within six or seven years [so] economically, there’s no reason not to do it.”

To learn more about The Children’s School, visit tcslj.org.

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2020-10-18 10:02:07

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