With the new voter approved solar panel system now up and running at Bishop Elementary Schools, listeners/readers have asked for additional detail on how the bond sales paid for the project.

In November 2008, Bishop voters approved a $3 million bond measure to install photovoltaic solar panels at the Elm St. and Pine St. Elementary Schools. The district sold $2.6 million in bonds, with $2.1 million being slated for the solar panels, the rest of the money raised is set to be spent on other energy saving infrastructure needs.

Schools Superintendent Barry Simpson explained that the interest rate on the bonds was about 6% when they were sold. As an extension of a previous bond measure that paid for a new cafeteria, science classrooms and other needs, the bonds were set to be paid off in 2025. The bonds will now be paid off in 2033 which adds an additional 8 years to pay for the solar panel system.

Simpson explained that this works out to be $14 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The $14 rate didnt change with the new bonds, but property owners will end up paying more over time as the payback period was extended by eight years.

The new solar panels are expected to meet the energy needs of the schools, saving the district $75,000 a year on their Edison power bill. The hope is to also take advantage of up to $1 million in state rebates over the next five years.


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