Helios Bay Area

Solar Master Plan Report Button

BAAQMD Support for Solar Master Plans for Bay Area Public Schools

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is charged with reducing pollution – including carbon dioxide – from stationary sources like refineries, factories, buildings (including schools), and homes (wood smoke). The BAAQMD is the primary local government agency charged with keeping the air breathable for everyone in the Bay Area.

While schools do not seem like a likely "hot spot" for pollution, they do consume very large amounts of electricity, much of which is produced by natural gas - a fossil fuel responsible for producing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter. All of these pollutants have a negative impact on air quality and climate change.

The BAAQMD contracted with KyotoUSA's HELiOS Project so that we could assist school districts in determining whether solar projects make sense for them. We provide unbiased information about how solar projects work, provide an initial assessment of where solar may be sited, and provide an initial analysis of the electricity production, savings, system cost, and availability of financing.

From July 2015-August 2016, the HELiOS Project team conducted outreach to 89 public school districts in the nine Bay Area counties. During this time, we conducted preliminary solar feasibility studies – which we then incorporated into customized Solar Master Plans – for 49 school districts. After seeing the significant benefits that could result from generating their own electricity, many of these districts have decided to pursue an onsite solar PV project.

Though we are no longer able to create Solar Master Plans for school districts, any stakeholder interested in a solar PV project at their district is encouraged to contact us for guidance on how to make their project a success.

We are delighted that solar PV projects are becoming commonplace in California’s public schools. While we can’t claim credit for the success of all the districts we have interacted with, we are confident that our outreach efforts helped the following 21 districts to make more informed decisions about their solar PV projects:

  • Seven districts in San Mateo County, including San Carlos SD 
  • Four districts in Alameda County, including Berkeley USD, Livermore Valley Joint Unified SD, Oakland USD
  • Three districts in Contra Costa County: Mt Diablo USD, San Ramon Valley USD, West Contra Costa USD
  • Two districts in Marin County, including Novato USD
  • Two districts in Solano County, including Benicia USD
  • Two districts in Sonoma County
  • One district in Santa Clara County: Palo Alto USD

Thanks to the unique combination of city and county resources available, the San Francisco Unified School District has been self-sufficient in meeting its goals for installing solar PV on its properties, and has not needed our support.

Supporting the HELiOS Project is one of the ways that the BAAQMD has demonstrated its support for public schools in the Bay Area as part of its mission to improve and maintain our air quality. Along with the school districts that we have served, we at the HELiOS Project appreciate the BAAQMD’s support!