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Urgent Call to Action! School Solar Arrays Need You!!!

What we thought was a done deal might not be. The solar arrays planned for Acequia Madre Elementary and Atalaya Elementary are in jeopardy – the City has required a hearing and listed additional criteria to be fulfilled. We need all hands on deck to support our cause for the City’s Historic Design Review Board meeting. This meeting will take place at…

Tuesday, July 28 at 5:30 pm at City Council Chambers, 200 Lincoln Ave.

If you believe in solar and in the kids who made it their dream to solarize their school— please, please consider attending and saying a few words. Even one sentence can have a huge impact 🙂

A show of support with a jam-packed room will send a message even before the speeches begin. If you are out of town, you are encouraged to write a few lines to be read aloud by a GWE kid. If you need help with transportation, especially of your kids, let me know.  If you have 5 others to send this to- even better.

If the GWEers have brought light to your life even one time, please know that they need your help NOW to bring power to their school lights, without coal. 

See below for more explanation from Lisa Randall, SFPS Conservation Program Coordinator. Also, for those of you who don’t already know the story, read about the kids’ work that led from the initial dream of solar power to the implementation of the project!

Excerpt from article about the first GWE group:

Marina and Joanna were ready to get kids mobilized. They started organizing with their 4th grade class and then asked Marina’s mom to help them start a GWE after school group in 5th grade. The first time the Acequia Madre 5th graders met, Marina’s mom asked them to come up with one Small Goal and one Big Goal for their year. The group immediately decided that their Small Goal was to ask their principal to get rid of the plastic water bottle machine in their school, because they already had water fountains and they wanted people to use reusable water bottles. By the end of their first meeting, they had written a letter and given it to their principal. By the end of the week he approved their request! The GWEers’ Big Goal was more complicated. The 5th graders in the group wanted to get solar panels installed at their school to power the school’s electricity, before they graduated, in a year. The odds were against them, as their school was small and also was in an historic district. In addition, there was the question of who would pay for the solar structure. The kids did not care about the odds. They wrote a letter to Lisa Randall, the SFPS Energy and Water Conservation Coordinator, and she responded quickly. Before long, the GWEers had helped to measure for a solar shade structure in their playground, met with Positive Energy Solar to view the plans, and hosted a party for the school’s neighbors to explain their plans. One year and a half, and many meetings later, the funding for the solar installation had been secured. Last May, the night before the Acequia Madre School’s 6th grade graduation, the SFPS Board unanimously approved their plan. The Acequia GWE had accomplished their goal of getting solar for their school, just before the 6th graders graduated!


Good evening everyone,

I wanted to alert you to the confirmation I received yesterday, July 14th, of our required attendance and presentation of the Acequia Madre and Atalaya solar projects to the City’s Historic Design Review Board. The meeting will take place on July 28th, starting at 5:30 pm, in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 200 Lincoln Ave. The public is invited to voice their opinion regarding one or both proposed arrays. After receiving Administrative Approval on June 16th from the City of Santa Fe’s Historic Board to move ahead with both projects, the Legislative Special Session Capital Outlay Package awarded the majority of funding for both solar arrays through direct appropriations. With the Capital Outlay award now covering the majority of funding for both projects, City Code has legal jurisdiction over these projects, and a different set of criteria applies. Remember, both projects are designed, and with prior H Board Administrative approval, some materials have been ordered. These are custom designs, and projects have been submitted to and approved by PNM. To date we have had zero opposition to the installations, we have full funding, we’ve had our early neighborhood notification meetings, and as noted, we received Historic Admin approval and have Positive Energy Solar under contract to build. With the Capital Outlay funding change however, the City is now requiring a public hearing, project applications, and for Acequia Madre, a written response to 3 criteria as to why a Santa Fe Style Exception should be granted. Per City code 14-5.2(E) Downtown & Eastside Historic District, Santa Fe Style is required for all structures, unless an exception is granted, which is what we are asking for. The proposed structure that holds the panels at Acequia Madre is metal with diagonal supports, rather than straight wooden supports as traditional Santa Fe Style structures often have.

David Rasch of the Historic Review Board will present the projects, with myself and Positive Energy Solar on hand to answer questions. As stated, the public can testify for or against, and we do hope that if you are in support of solar PV on these 2 schools that you will come and share your ideas with the Historic Review Board. They may very well send us back to the design drawing board on Acequia Madre to meet Santa Fe Style requirements, which will further delay the project (we were slated to start at the end of July), and add thousands of dollars in costs to the project, making it economically less feasible. SFPS is committed to renewable energy on our campuses, but we need your help to remind our City Officials that renewable energy is a priority for all parts of our city, in all of our neighborhoods.

As I gather more information I will communicate that, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me for clarification. You are welcome to share this email with others who may be interested.

Thanks very much,