School Board approves solar site that will obscure Historic Landmark
By Angela Rainsberger
The Dwyer Solar Group (DSG) and supporting community members are in favor of solar power for the HB City School District, but they are strongly opposed to any “front of the school” location for the giant 138’-long by 32’-deep by 13’-tall, carport-style solar panel structures.
They believe the community was neither properly informed, nor involved, in the decision-making process for the placement of these structures.
Dwyer is a HB Historic Landmark, and DSG believes the District did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its obligations to review the potential environmental impacts to historic resources, specifically the impact of the historic and aesthetic value of Dwyer Middle School.
Chevron courted the School Board for a no-bid contract and drafted misleading mock-ups showing an elevated/aerial view of the proposed solar site in front of Dwyer Middle School. The actual view of the school is from the bottom of the bluff. If constructed in front of Dwyer, the “carport-style” solar panel structures will block the view of the school from all angles.
Chevron intends to show the aerial image of the majestic Dwyer Middle School building flanked by the two large solar panels as their flagship installation in their marketing literature. Chevron is so intent upon keeping the panels in front of the school that they have inflated the costs of relocating the panels to the adjacent bus parking lot or other alternative locations.
The panels will not only block the view of the school from all directions but it will also take away the grand lawn used by the students each day for PE and for promotion ceremonies.
The outcry from the community has been unprecedented, but the School Board voted to move forward, citing the estimated costs that would be incurred to change the planned location.
The School Board now risks the costs of the community-threatened CEQA lawsuit and Chevron risks the planned Chevron boycott by the community at large.
HBTomorrow supports efforts toward responsible development downtown. HBT collaborates with other groups that share our mission and goals, including the Dywer Solar Group.