SMMUSD HDQTRS — Under a plan officials said would save the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District more than a million dollars in energy costs, nine local public schools could soon get solar panels added to their roofs.

“We’re trying to leave no stone unturned looking for ways to reduce our costs and be fiscally prudent while also doing right by the environment,” school board member Ben Allen said of he plan.

The board is set to vote tonight on the proposal, which would save the district $1.1 million in energy costs and would prevent the production of 23,822 tons of greenhouse gases over the next 25 years, a district report stated.

The proposed agreement with REgeneration Finance LLC would allow the district to buy electricity for a reduced rate of $0.131 per kilowatt hour with an annual 4 percent increase during the 25 year deal.

Allen said the long term of the deal and the built-in price hike presents a risk the district could end up overpaying for energy. But he said, “It’s a risk I’m willing to take looking at the trends in energy pricing over the years.”

He said the solar panels could also play an educational role on campuses, exposing students to renewable energy systems and the environmental issues they’re meant to address.

“Every school district in California will have to seek revenue enhancement strategies and this looks like a good fit for a city that prides itself in protecting our natural environment and reducing our carbon footprint,” said school board member Oscar de la Torre.

But he said he had concerns about potentially negative impacts during construction and the amount of revenue the panels would generate. He also said he would like to ensure that local contractors get preference for installation and maintenance contracts if the board approves the solar panel deal.

Virginia Hyatt, who directs the district’s purchasing under the school improvement funding measure known as Measure BB, could not be reached on Tuesday for comment on the panels.

The schools slated to get solar panels under the deal are: Grant, Franklin, McKinley, John Muir, Will Rogers, Roosevelt, Juan Cabrillo, and Webster elementary schools, and Point Dume Marine Science School.

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