Solar Panels, coming soon to a MDUSD school parking lot near you!

June 29, 2011 10:00 am · 151 comments

*This story was originally posted on June 16th, but we are reposting it due to the fact that we are getting a ton of email/facebook messages asking about the construction in the MDUSD school parking lots.

If you’ve noticed fencing around the parking lot of Clayton Valley High School (pictured above) and other local schools, it’s because those sites will soon be getting covered solar panel parking, and construction is about to begin.

According to the MDUSD, the district’s solar program involves the installation of ground-mounted shade and/or parking structures at 51 district sites. The 51 systems will be installed in three installation increments of approximately seventeen schools/sites per increment. The solar installation is scheduled for completion in April 2012. With a total of 11.2 Megawatts it is presently the largest K-12 public education solar program under contract in the United States. Once fully installed and operating it will reduce the district’s annual PG&E bill by 91% by generating 81% of the District’s energy usage.

To read more about the MDUSD’s solar project, please click HERE.

101 Gary Eberhart June 29, 2011 at 11:09 PM

First off, when I comment, I use my name. Second, I rarely ever comment anymore because making an effort on blogs is a waste of time for me. The proof of that fact will be evident in the comments that follow.

The misinformation and assumptions that are being broadcast are so amazing; I’m not sure where to even start. I’ll just say that all of the negative comments that have been posted since The Mayor re-posted this today are baseless and false. I do think it’s important for our community to understand the facts related to the investment being made for the solar photovoltaic system that will produce power for the district for the next 30 years. If there are people who have questions, please feel free to e-mail me and I’ll do my best to get you accurate information. You can get me at

That said, negative comments can continue in 3…2…1…

102 Nut Creek June 29, 2011 at 11:34 PM

@Anon Post # 71 Easy there boys… Now making your point is one thing
However, watch the bile. It may turn someone’s stomach :(

103 anon June 29, 2011 at 11:36 PM


Why would you want to exclude you and your family from voting?

104 anon June 29, 2011 at 11:41 PM


You’re obviously unfamiliar with bond funding. Or loans, mortgages, home improvement loans, and the like.

105 anon June 29, 2011 at 11:47 PM

@Linda L

If I’m not mistaken, there was a measure for a parcel tax. It was called Measure D, and I worked on the campaign. It didn’t get the 2/3 majority requirement; therefore, your point is moot. Bring in the second choice, Measure C, which did not need a 2/3 majority. I’d be perfectly happy with a parcel tax. Get one passed, and then we’ll talk.

106 anonamom June 30, 2011 at 12:06 AM

So educate me anon. I own this home, and three small vacation rentals on a nice little fishing hole in Kentucky. I have a fairly healthy retirement portfolio, although I’m really wishing I had stayed out of the REIT market, except for SNH–it’s been OK for me. But would love your input–go for it.

107 Concernicus June 30, 2011 at 1:27 AM

new rule: if you dont have the money for it, you cant have it.

108 LindaL June 30, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Anon #105
I too worked on Measure D. While we were running neighborhood phone banks 5 days per week for 5 weeks our District leadership was doing the following:
Young, Nicol, and Whitmarsh were attending UMDAF meetings asking for volunteers and money for that effort and calling it plan B. Those resources only go so far and when you are at the beginning of a parcel tax campaign you don’t dilute your efforts or demoralize your volunteers.
Eberhart, Strange, and Allen were non-existent. An occasional blog post or public appearance but that was it.
Linda Mayo worked hard in the Campaign headquarters.
As part of our local efforts to understand how to pass a parcel tax we (a few parents) interviewed school board members from San Ramon and Acalanes to find out what structure they put in place and to determine the role of key leaders in the District. You would be amazed at how hard they work and how much of a structure they have developed to be successful at their parcel tax efforts. We still don’t even have a list of all the parent contacts for communication at each school site. This would be one of the key elements to building the structure and MDUSD hasn’t even been motivated enough to make this happen, even after repeated pleas over the years. Our Measure D wasn’t a District-wide effort with leadership and vision. It was an attempt to throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. My previous point is not moot, our District is looking for the easy solution and has not done the hard work necessary to pass a parcel tax. With every new scheme they come up with it will set them back and restoring trust and confidence will at some point be almost hopeless. Negative… you bet!

109 MDUSD Board Watcher June 30, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Yeah, Gary tells a good story but the truth is something diffferent.

Its kind of like playing 3 card monte with him.

Two simple questions:

1. What is the expected life of these solar panels?
2. What is the payback period?

If the answer to question 2 is bigger than question 1 then we have a problem that even a solar class or two can’t solve.

110 Doctor J June 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Gary doesn’t care that homeowners will be paying for the solar panels long after they have quit working — all Gary cares about is that the electric bill paid from the General Fund will be less . . . . oh, and also he parlayed the solar project into a new job for himself, but I don’t see his company working on any school solar projects so I wonder how long that will last.

111 @mdsusd board watcher June 30, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Of course if the parcel tax had passed at $99 per parcel, there wouldn’t had been the need to be so creative to free up some much needed funds in the current fiscal year. People are morons sometimes.

112 anonamom June 30, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Yes Dr. J—and while he continues to say “every negative thing said is untrue”, he still hasn’t had any of the incorrect wording of “C” promises corrected. The District will NOT save “91% off of PG&E costs”, as was stated on the election materials to mislead the voters, and then the lie repeated a million times as if repeating it will make it true! It will save money on the ELECTRIC portion only. True, that will be significant, but they are installing GAS powered HVAC equipment.

When you read the SunPower contract it guarantees a 95% savings—-doesn’t say ELECTRIC only—-so the lie was carried over even into the contract. Are our District experts saying that GAS usage is only 5% of our utility expense? If so, they should say so, and I can back off. Until then—they are all liars.

Kind of like the lie on Eberhart’s business profile: “Chair of facilities and real estate subcommittee which oversees the expenditure of $348m worth of construction bonds”. So if he’s the Measure C “chair” what is Pedersen–our $10million dollar–oops–strike that –it’s now up to $15million dollar man called?

113 David Concord June 30, 2011 at 4:33 PM

anonamom June 30, 2011 at 1:55 PM

I would call the $15M man a puppet.

This solar thing is a done deal. Construction has started and unless someone discovers something blatantly illegal, its going to happen.

Now is the time to start looking at the future;
Monitor the construction.
Note change orders.
Challenge overrides.
Keep very close accounting of all of the money being spent.

We, as voters, all need to keep track of every aspect of this project. This is an incredible amount of money, our money, and we have every right to be involved every step of the way. And if that means weekly updates on the construction project, then we should have them.

We should not forget that this project is our, the residents, money, We have entrusted this project to the school board. But I think we need to keep a close watch on every aspect of this huge project.

114 Gary Eberhart July 1, 2011 at 12:17 AM

News flash. Solar photovoltaic systems generate electricity, not natural gas. I learn something new everyday…

Dr. J. What is the payback period for the bonds that are funding the solar project? Do you know? If you think the payback period exceeds the estimated lifespan of the system, you’d better do some homework.

That’s why the people who continually post the misinformation and lies are not willing to have a live, in person public debate on the issue. Doing so is not possible when the facts are not on your side.

Had we not moved forward with the solar project, we would have been laying off another $3 million per year in additional employees. That is fact and it is indisputable.

We are fortunate in this district to have the support of the majority of our community, a community that understood the value of the solar photovoltaic system and a community that was willing to support our efforts with hard earned tax dollars. Thank you.

115 Linda L July 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Mr Eberhart,
That is just not true. First off many who voted for Measure C now regret doing so, this includes some of those who endorsed the measure. It is hard not to vote for something that is “sold” as fixing our crumbling schools. In addition, no opposition could have competed with the slick mailers that were sent out during the last weeks of the campaign. So I would not be too sure of your majority support. In addition, I would love to have a public discussion with you regarding the solar project and the bonds. It is you who continually asks to speak to individuals in private. It is the Measure C oversight committee who does not allow questions from the audience. I would love to have a discussion right here, right now.

Let’s see if I get straight forward answers. Why was the last bond issuance only for $10mil? Why are you running the $10mil concurrently with the Measure C 2002 bonds rather than deferring the interest and extending the term as indicated during the election? It appears you have now filled in the gap up to the $60 max (clearly the Superintendent presents this as a target not a max) promised to the voters, are you having trouble selling the bonds within the confines of the future $60 limit due to the onerous terms? Why did you rescind the refunding of the Measure C 2002 bond when just weeks earlier you pontificated at a Board meeting how wonderful it would be for the taxpayers? Were you planning on pulling out additional funds? How many times have you done that already? How many times for Measure A? Why is there no Measure C 2002 oversight committee but there is still a balance of Measure C 2002 funds? Where are the audits after 2008? Why were your first energy escalations for the solar project based on 6.7%, then modified to what was touted as a conservative 5.5%? Then still as recently as this past spring, Pederson claimed at the Measure C oversight committee meeting that while the escalations have historically been 6.7%, MDUSD has decided to use 4.7%. Are you just trying to find a way to justify bad math? Why did a 2% growth factor magically appear (it wasn’t in the Oct 2010 presentation)? How do you justify a 2% growth factor when you have declining enrollment and two charter schools coming on board next year? It’s odd that the 2% growth factor and the 4.7% escalation get us back to your originally over-inflated 6.7%, how can you explain that?
Why are you using a 30 year “financial analysis” when the Sun Power guarantees are only for 20 years and obsolescence is sure to become a factor? If you use 30 years how can you completely disregard costs in those future years? Why do we continue to hear that the solar project costs $67 mil when it is closer to $90mil with another change order on the horizon?

I have plenty more question but we can start here. I sincerely would love to know the answers.

116 David Molstad July 1, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Hey Gary, you going to accuse Linda L with being libelous too? Just wondering….

117 anonamom July 1, 2011 at 6:34 PM

And Gary, while you play glib, nah, while you play smart ass (which is very becoming in a school board president!), please explain how and why so many items done (I’ll say allegedly”) through 2002 Measure C—and signed off as complete, have been added as items on the 2010 “to do” list. We’ll agree that painting probably does need to be redone every several years. Maybe even pavement overlays and things that get abused; but new roof systems in 2005 need leak repair in 2010? Completely new central-control irrigation systems in 2006 need replacing in 2010? Like Linda, I could go on, considering there are 51 facilities being padded to justify that emergency need for $358million dollars.

118 anonamom July 1, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Gary: We are “live”. Mr. Mayor would likely let us have a reasonable back and forth for as long as necessary to facilitate truth, and this is as public as it gets. Through your growing arrogance you seem to have forgotten your place.

Volunteer for the good cause? Yes, at one time. Was I a great supporter of you at one time? Yes. The last several years? Not so much! Through personal greed you have changed, you have lost sight of the “good cause”.

What you wanted, big man, was solar. You should have just asked us for solar. “Give me $90 million and I will save you all a few million dollars more than it will cost. We’ll pay it off in 15 years and and we’ll put that millions saved right straight into the classroom. Not in raises, not in bene’s for me and not in consultants telling us how to spend what’s left when they’re through taking their slice–but straight into the best teachers, the best systems.” See?

119 MDUSD Board Watcher July 1, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Gary and company always want to have a private conversation you know to avoid something going on record and appearing in a courtroom some day.

Gary I triple dog dare you to answer Lindas questions.

Your silence exposes you.

120 Fred P. July 1, 2011 at 8:17 PM

‘Scuse me, but…..

Teachers are paid out of the operating expenses.

The solar panels are a capital cost – paid out of Measure C.

That’s two different pockets – solar panels have NOTHING to do with teacher pay – except they’ll help reduce the operating expenses… but NOT to the tune of what Gary E. is talking about.

Do the math – the ENTIRE math problem. You’ll see the bill of goods we were sold.

121 David Molstad July 1, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Anonamom posted a very compelling comment addressing Gary;

“Through your growing arrogance you seem to have forgotten your place.”

I seriously doubt Gary will respond to these posts, but I am confident he reads them.

Gary, with the serious accusations and unanswered questions posted here and other comments publicly stated and the threats leveled by you, an elected representative, at voters, perhaps its time for you to resign from the board.

Nothing libelous here, only an opinion of a voter who has come to distrust an elected representative. It may be to your benefit to give this suggestion serious thought.

122 David Concord July 1, 2011 at 9:26 PM

@Fred P
The money may be in two different pockets, but its all tax money, all our money.

123 Mr. Anon E. Mouse July 1, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Oh my, to be disavowed by anonamom… very damning.
Measure C never smelled kosher to me. It will be interesting when all the “facts” come to light.

124 Gary Eberhart July 1, 2011 at 9:52 PM


I am willing and available to meet and debate the issues that pertain to our solar program and our bonds. Let’s agree on a time and place and I will make myself available. I respect your willingness to discuss these important issues.


125 anonamom July 1, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Linda, ask for public mic time at an open board meeting! mano y mano.

When someone with a financial stake wants to sell some snake oil they get unlimited time and power point backup. When the public has something to question, they get one to three minutes before Gary yells “OK—NEXT”?

126 Shak Li Batahat July 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM

So when and where is this discussion between Linda and Gary and anonamom going to be held? I, and a few others, might like to sit in and listen.

127 LindaL July 3, 2011 at 8:52 AM

I would like to suggest a round table discussion where the public can attend and ask questions with a back and forth dialogue. No time limits on the questions, no cut-off on follow-up questions. Just interested parties sitting around a table asking questions and getting answers. Obviously, you can set a limit on the overall time of the meeting. I am having trouble with my internet connection this weekend but will get back to you with a location and we can work out a time. I would like it to be a noticed meeting just in case other Board members would like to attend. Thanks.

128 FOONMAN July 3, 2011 at 9:42 AM

I havw to agree with #12. I investigated using solar panels and found that just about the time I would start saving money in the long term use, it would be time to replace about 20k worth solar panels. Not to mention opening the coal mines which fire most of our electric plants…….but thats another story

129 Shak Li Batahat July 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Great idea Linda. An open forum not so much to argue or accuse, but just to understand what is going on and what thought processes went into the plans. The board needs to be there along with the superintendent.

Linda, I would suggest you set up the format and run the show, The Board needs to be there to discuss the concerns, not to run the meeting,.

Looking forward to seeing a time and place set up.;

130 MDUSD Board Watcher July 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM

If Gary actually agrees to meet in public and answer questions, I’ll eat my hat.

Not a chance in hell that will happen.

131 Shak Li Batahat July 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM

@MDUSD Board Watcher July 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Let’s think positive!

And if he does not, then folks can decide what to do next.

An amusing thought just crossed my mind, had to do with tar and feathers. lol

132 @Mdusd board July 3, 2011 at 5:58 PM

The time for questions is over. The bonds have been sold and the project has started. Ther are always these type of people whose heads were up their asses and NOW the want to go back and be part of it. Get over it and move on and next time pay attention.

133 Shak Li Batahat July 3, 2011 at 6:32 PM

If people really think this is a bad deal, just don’t vote for the same board members again. There is an option of a recall, but its a tough process. The people who voted for the present board and who are now unhappy need to take action if any is going to be taken.

134 Doctor J July 3, 2011 at 6:52 PM

@132 Its not over until its over. Just ask the Pleasanton taxpayers. “PLEASANTON RESIDENTS learned last week that they will pay $9.3 million more in property taxes for bonds they never approved because past school officials lost their moral compasses in pursuit of more construction money.”
Its about time that Linda L’s questions got answered in writing and published. What happened to the transparency and accountability promised by Gary Eberhart, Sherry Whitmarsh, and Linda Mayo ?

135 Shak Li Batahat July 3, 2011 at 7:07 PM

If someone on the Board or the Board as a group has done something wrong they certainly should be held accountable.

I agree with Dr. J, Llinda L’s questions need to be answered. The MDUSD board needs to make itself available to the voters to address these concerns.

136 Gary Eberhart July 3, 2011 at 9:32 PM

As I have said. Set the time and place and those who participate can determine the format. I will insist that all who participate must identify themselves.

137 Atticus Thraxx July 3, 2011 at 9:52 PM

Your a mensh Herr Eberhart. Keep up the good work and remember you do enjoy the support of many in our community. Myself included.

138 anonamom July 3, 2011 at 11:35 PM

So you see Linda, he’ll never agree to making it a legally posted meeting.

THE BROWN ACT: Meeting Rule #1. Sign-in must not be required. Sign-in is permitted if it states that it is voluntary. Speaker must not be required to state their name.

Pesky rules! One can never be too careful.

139 Doctor J July 4, 2011 at 6:16 AM

Gary, Please permit me to ask you a slightly different question. With the implementation of furlough days this last school year, actual classroom instructional time decreased, and I recall that as a board in your new budget you projected — please correct me with the correct numbers if I get it wrong — additional classroom furlough days of 7 to 10 days per year for the next three years [even though not yet finalized with the MDEA] resutling in up to two weeks less instructional time. Will the solar savings to the general fund completely reduce the need for furlough days ? When will the instructional time from its base in 09/10 ever be increased ?

140 Concordanon July 4, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Mr. Eberhart, just let it go. Don’t get involved in a tit for tat discussion over the solar panels. The measure was approved by the voters. It’s underway. There will always be critics out there, no matter what you or the board do. Just do your best as a board member to see that the project is done correctly.

There are many of us who appreciate your many years of service to MDUSD. We appreciate that you and the other board members have had to make many difficult and unpopular decisions due to the sad state of the state budget. When the naysayers post here, just ignore them. If you feel you must respond, then just post the financial facts one time. Then stop. It’s not helpful to the district if you let yourself get sucked into a personal argument on a blog. Just let it go.

141 anonamom July 4, 2011 at 10:09 AM

@140 “…just post the financial facts one time…” That’s all we’ve ever asked for!

142 Doctor J July 4, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Concordian, so what about the TRUTH are you afraid of ? And if the statements are not the TRUTH, what do you suggest be done ?

143 The Thinker July 4, 2011 at 12:44 PM

I’ll attend Gary and Linda’s meeting if David Molstad will. I’d love to see him put his money where his (large) mouth is. Also I’ve never seen a moron in person. Is he still considering his law suite?

144 Doctor J July 4, 2011 at 1:08 PM

@Thinker — Another Garyite — all you can do is call other people names rather than discuss the facts. So what if someone makes a typo.

145 David Molstad July 4, 2011 at 1:38 PM

@The Thinker July 4, 2011 at 12:44 PM
LOL it is always so easy to call people names when in hiding. I don’t know when this meeting may take place or whether I will be able to attend, even though I would very much like to be there.

So, I will be at Panama Red tomorrow at 10AM. Why don’t you come on down and say hi. You can buy me an Ice Tea and we can have a chat about whatever you please. I only have 30 min available so don’t be late.

I look forward to seeing you then.

146 Gary Eberhart July 5, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Concordanon brings up very rational points. I am not interested in debating people who are not interested in getting accurate information out to our community. We as a District have done everything in our power to ensure that all available information relative to our solar project and our bonds has been given to our community. Thanks to the support shown to our students by our amazing community, we are under constriction on the Nation’s largest solar photovoltaic generation project for a K-12 school district, a project that will generate millions of dollars that will directly benefit our students. These facts are indisputable. We appreciate the overwhelming support of our students that our community has shown. There is nothing to be gained from debating with individuals who have no desire to look at obvious facts. Many people continue to misinform the community. The real information is abundantly available through our District web site, through individual Board Members, as well as through the Superintendent’s office. I continue to encourage the community to educate themselves on all issues that involve the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

Gary Eberhart

147 anonamom July 6, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Gary: Quoting you, as was posted on your (now deleted) Blog a year ago—“The District has a subcommittee of the Board called the Facilities Subcommittee and some of the meetings were held during regularly scheduled Facilities Subcommittee meetings, which are public meetings. We do not have secret meetings. ”

I asked then for public records of those meetings, and I’m still waiting………….

Gary, I don’t need a debate, just some assistance. So, maybe you could just tell me where these “Public Meetings” agendas and/or minutes are posted on the District’s website. I’ve looked and looked.

148 Doctor J July 6, 2011 at 8:37 AM

Gary, would you please have the courtesty to answer the simple questions I posted in #139 ? I am not debating, just seeking accurate information which I am sure you know, but most of us don’t.

149 Linda L July 6, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Are you serious? Are you saying you will not meet with the public to sit down and answer questions? Are my questions above irrational? Are the answers to those questions on a website somewhere? I have been asking some of these questions for over 18 months, if that does not show a sincere interest in obtaining accurate information I don’t know what does.

If you reconsider I would like to meet at the Ygnacio Valley library. You can let me know the dates that work for you. If not, I guess that is two steps backwards for restoring trust and confidence.

150 Linda L July 6, 2011 at 9:33 AM

I went back and reread you post. I would like to remind you that you said the following in comment #114:
“That’s why the people who continually post the misinformation and lies are not willing to have a live, in person public debate on the issue. Doing so is not possible when the facts are not on your side.”

151 Dan July 6, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Gary! Come on now.

You know I emailed you and the rest of the board and asked one simple question. Can anyone give me any information on why it is ok for Measure C funds to be used to pay current employee salaries?

I got a response from the esteemed district lawyer that said in effect: we have done lots of work in this area, but due to client attorney privelege it will not be disseminated.

So Gary how does that fit with your statement from above, “The real information is abundantly available through our District web site, through individual Board Members, as well as through the Superintendent’s office.”

Please help me out here.

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