Board picks Centrica as solar panel provider; work is set to begin this summer

February 8, 2024 — by William Cao and Eric Shi
Graphic by Amy Miao
Sample drawing of solar panels at the senior parking lot.
Out of four possible proposals for the construction of solar panels and EV charging stations, Centrica stood out on top for its reliability and expertise in the field.

During a meeting on Jan. 16, the district board selected electrical services company Centrica to oversee the construction of solar panels at both SHS and Los Gatos High. 

Centrica’s bid beat out ones from DSD, NextEra and Solaris. The contract with Centrica is set to be officially approved at a meeting on Feb. 27. The direct project purchase cost for the Saratoga High project is estimated at almost $1.9 million.

According to information released by the board, the construction, which is projected to commence around July and be completed by April 2025, will include three rows of solar panel canopies shadowing the parking lot section close to the McAfee Center, two rows of solar panel canopies above the middle parking lot and another two rows of solar panel canopies over the parking lot close by the Benny Pierce Field.

Courtesy of the LGSUHSD Board

Proposed diagram and wattage of a Solar Panel blueprint installment on campus.

To guide their decision-making process in selecting the company that would best suit the school’s energy requirements, including interior lighting, field lighting and wallpack lighting, members of the board used a weighted scoring system and considered various factors.

Lifetime savings and price adjustment accounted for 40% of the score; project experience, qualifications, safety plans and financial stability accounted for 20%; System design, components and schedule accounted for 20%; Performance guarantee accounted for 10%; and contract exceptions and overall RFP (request for proposals) accounted for 10%.

Under this scoring system, Centrica ranked first for solar panel installation and third for the installation of solar panels with electric vehicle charging services, giving it the highest average ranking out of all the listed companies. 

Although Centrica ranked relatively low compared to other companies on the “lifetime savings and price adjustment” category, achieving a rank of No. 4, the company consistently ranked in the top two in all other categories, resulting in its top placement.

Centrica’s deficit in savings is apparent when looking at a cumulative savings line graph procured by the board. According to the graph, after 20 years, Centrica’s total savings amounted to just over $5 million, while competing companies DSD and NextEra provided savings of nearly $9 million and just over $6 million, respectively. 

Courtesy of the LGSUHSD Board

Projected 25-year graph of savings by Centrica, DSD, NextEra and Solaris. “PV” notates the benefits of solar panels and “EVSE” notates the benefits from solar panels and EV charging.

Still, the board determined the trade-off of total savings for Centrica’s lead in all other factors, like project guarantee, experience, schedule and systems design was worth it for the creation of campus-wide sustainable energy infrastructure.

As the school shifts more toward alternative energy sources to help preserve the environment, the long-awaited prospect of solar panels is no longer a distant vision. With concrete dates on when construction will begin and end, the board has begun to step out of the planning phase and has begun the development phase.

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