Tustin Unified School District proposes to install a shade structure pv arrays at Hewes MS. The proposed project would involve installing elevated shade structures to house solar energy panel systems and would occur over turf fields in the center and south of the campus. Two structures would be installed over turf fields, but would not impact the use of the fields. To connect the panels to the school's electrical system, the wiring would be installed underground and connected directly to the school's existing electrical system. The solar systems would produce approx 80% of the school's electricity demand, reducing the District's reliance on utility-supplied electricity and improving the environment by reducing the District's contribution to global warming emissions.
No increases in enrollment, capacity or intensity of uses are proposed as part of this project. The project would be installed per DSA approved design specifications. The project would be executed per appropriate and current district standards, guidelines and construction BMPs. The new solar structures would serve as campus improvements, and as such, the beneficiaries of the project include the school's students, faculty, staff and members of the community.
CEQA Guidelines section 15303 class 3 consists of construction and location of limited numbers of new, small facilities or structure: installation of small new equipment and facilities in small structures; and the conversion of existing small structures from one use to another where only minor modifications are made in the exterior of the structure. The solar arrays would be mounted on proposed overhead shade structures similar to carport structures; thus, the project would be categorically exempt from CEQA. The project would enhance the renewable energy capabilities of the school and would not alter or expand the use of the turf fields. Further, a review of the possible exceptions to the exemption determined that no exceptions exist and the school project qualifies for the categorical exemption. Greater detail can be found in the Supplemental to Hewes MS Solar Energy Project.