By Christian Collins
As anyone with eyes and a car can tell, the upper parking lots of Benicia High School are undergoing major construction for the installation of solar panels. Benicia High is one of many schools in the state taking advantage of Prop 39’s funding for clean energy. Under this Proposition, money is granted to California schools for the improvement of clean energy efficiency and its expansion.
Due to the high construction on the lots, 65% of parking spaces are currently closed. This is displeasing to many students who park in the lot, especially to those who paid $35 for a parking pass. In an interview with the Paw, Vice Principal Thompson said “the ultimate goal of the district is to lower utility costs… the money that we save on utilities can now be directed towards students.” A large percentage of the BHS budget goes to water, heating, and electricity. Whatever money these solar panels save on utilities will be put back into the system and into programs that benefit students.
Construction on the upper tiers of the parking lot is expected to be completed mid-January. After that, it will move to the three outer wings of the school and any parking lot open now will be shut down. With everything that needs to be done, such as wiring, installing panels, transporting equipment, the estimated completion date is late February to early March. Everyone remembers how long the completion date of our stadium was postponed. If the solar panels are still being installed during mid-April, don’t be surprised. That’s a long time to go without guaranteed parking. Students will have to either come early to snag a spot or find alternate places to park their cars. And be prepared to walk. According to Thompson, “The long term gain is going to outweigh what is spent putting it in”.