The objective of this project is to install a 55,440 Watt, 168 panel, photovoltaic power (PV) generating system at Rancho Santa Marta Orphanage and School (The Ranch). The panels will be mounted to carports and existing roof structures. The goal is to allow the Ranch to avoid high electricity expenses and generate a savings that will allow the reallocation of financial resources to the orphanage and school operations. The new PV system will produce 70% of the total energy needs which will save the Ranch $174,706 pesos ($10,000 dollars) annually. Every peso saved by avoided electricity expense is a peso that can be used to help the children receive a better education at the Ranch.
The Orphanage and School:
The Ranch is a non-profit organization (NGO) that provides a home for 50 abandoned youth and a school for 250 kindergarten through 12th graders approximately 60 miles south of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. The school at the Ranch provides much needed educational services and offers hope for both students and parents. It's one of the only schools in Baja that has a focus on children with learning challenges. The Ranch believes every child should have the opportunity to be in school and be provided with all the tools necessary for learning. Whether it's a new math strategy, sign language or in-depth counseling, it is the school's vision to help children flourish according to their abilities. Many of the students come from public schools where they are mistreated and put down. The Ranch offers them a safe haven where they are able to have the freedom to learn, opening opportunities that will change lives. More information about Rancho Santa Marta is available at http://www.ranchosantamarta.org
The need for this project was identified through interviews with the Rancho Santa Marta management staff and an analysis of the Ranch's highest fixed costs which includes electricity expenses. The analysis showed an annual expenditure of roughly $275,057 pesos (approximately USD 14,000.00) or $22,921.00 pesos per month (USD 1,200.00). Supporting a school in Mexico that has 250 Kindergarten through 12th grade students, not to mention providing food/shelter for 50 abandoned children, requires considerable financial resources. By reducing the fixed electrical costs with the renewable PV energy generating system, the Ranch can free up financial resources for core activities such as enhancing the quality of educational services for the children. The project will provide a significant saving producing 70% of the total energy needs which will save the Ranch $174,706 pesos ($10,000 dollars) annually.
A portion of the financial savings will be allocated to fund the maintenance of the PV system, which will be done by the Ranch staff who will be trained accordingly. This will ensure a sustainable project by providing detailed training to on-site staff who will then be able to perform regular system maintenance.
The community was involved through discussions between Ensenada Rotary Club, the Santee-Lakeside Rotary Club and the Rancho Santa Marta staff who identified the opportunity to save financial resources by eliminating a significant portion of the electricity costs. The system will be purchased from, designed and installed by local (Baja California, Mexico) engineers/contractors. Local contractors will also be hired to build the structures that will support photovoltaic panels and provide general construction support during the project deployment. Once funds to purchase and build the system have been secured, the deployment of the PV system will take approximately 12 weeks from procurement of materials to commissioning.