A school district in West Ventura County is the last place on Earth where you’d expect to find ground zero in the battle for global supremacy in the solar energy business.
But that’s precisely the scenario that’s unfolding in the wake of an Oxnard Union School District board vote earlier this month that gave a group led by SunPower, based in San Jose, a no-bid contract worth roughly $20 million to build solar power installations at six high school campuses. The combined power output would be just shy of 4 megawatts, amounting to $21.1 million in savings over 25 years for the district.
Shortly after Labor Day, the school board trustees voted 3-2 to approve the plan. That vote was taken amid protests from SolarWorld, which makes millions of solar panels just down the road in Camarillo. SolarWorld, part of a large German company, wants to turn back the clock and force a competitive bid process for the installation.