New solar panels to alleviate climate crisis

Leina Khan

On February 28th, 2023, the TUHSD (Tamalpais Union High School District) came to an agreement that approved a project that will replicate the solar photovoltaic canopies from the front parking lot in the back lot. This project will also include the addition of battery energy storage systems and electric (EV) charging stations for the growing electric vehicle population at Redwood.

This project will not only benefit the climate by providing more solar energy for the campus, but it will also save an estimated $14.7 million over 25 years, and $630,000 annually in energy utility expenditures. On top of that, the federal government will provide a 3 million dollar tax credit for the project benefits. 

Senior Jack Haubold is the student representative for the TUHSD District Board and has contributed to the project by giving his perspective as a student.

“I have friends that drive electric vehicles. There is a fair amount of not only students but teachers and other community members who would benefit from this project,” Haubold said. 

Haubold describes the project as a great effort to transition the school to be more environmentally conscious.

 “It’s good to see the way the district is working hard to assure our campus is more eco-friendly. Hopefully, this project will also encourage new drivers to go electric for their first car.”

This new project will not only be implemented on the Redwood campus. Archie Williams and Tamalpais High School plan to follow Redwood’s lead by upgrading their parking lots with solar canopies. With all three schools involved, the TUHSD district wishes to create a more eco-friendly environment.

Despite the considerable benefits of the project, carrying out this plan may be difficult. The overall construction of the solar panels would occur during the end of the 2023 summer break but will still carry on into the fall semester with a goal of being completed by early 2024. This implies that a selection of parking spots accessible for students may not be available into the next school year.

Junior Fallon O’Keefe lives in Sleepy Hollow, San Anselmo, over 20 miles from campus. Her parking spot is very valuable to her and helps her stay close to campus so she has enough time to get to class. Without her spot, she would have no choice but to park multiple minutes off campus, adding to the inefficiencies of her mornings. 

“My spot is very valuable. I know a lot of other students who don’t have spots and have to park super far off campus. Most of the time those spots are taken and they get stuck parking in the neighborhood where many [people] have been getting parking tickets,” O’Keefe said.

Despite the difficulties this project could cause, the TUHSD district has kept its decision to turn it  into a reality. Fewer parking spots will be available amid the construction, but plans indicate the availability issues will only occur for a limited time. Overall, if it is carried out successfully, this project will create a more eco-friendly environment which will have long-term positive effects on students and the community.