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Groundswell of support for solar at board meeting

By Isabel Sullivan

At the March 24 school board meeting, practically every seat was filled by students and community members showing their support for solar power in the school district.

As environmental commissioner of the leadership class, senior Ariel Moyal, walked to the podium to address the board, students stood with posters that read “We see a bright future!” and “Support sustainability!”

Moyal spoke to the board about her observation that Alameda, while having a reputation for progressivism, is falling behind environmentally. “Now is the time to adopt solar power for the district,” said Moyal, “if not for the incredibly important environmental benefits, for the benefits economically and for our reputation.”

Senior Julian Pelzner also addressed the school board, asking that they create a resolution that requests Alameda Municipal Power to extend energy metering for the Alameda Unified School District’s existing and future solar school sites.

“Without this financial credit system in place to pay AUSD back for any solar we generate, we will never be able to make the economics work for these large scale solar projects moving forward,” said Pelzner.

Carolyn Griffith, AP environmental science teacher, stood at the podium and spoke about the impact that a solar power lab has had on her classes and the community at large, as AP environmental science students often share the lab with elementary and middle school students for their final project.

At the end of her speech, Griffith explained that the AP exam is difficult and sometimes kids do not know the answer. “What’s the answer kids?” asked Griffith. “The sun!” shouted many voices, sharing an inside joke that the answer to everything is the sun.

Superintendent Sean McPhetridge is proud of the community’s involvement in the conversation about solar.  However, he does believe that the community must “slow down the conversation so we can get architects, energy consultants, community based organizations, and local city agencies to start talking about the pros and cons of proposed approaches.”

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The Oak Leaf, a product of the journalism class, is a vehicle of student expression and a public forum for the Alameda High School community.