by Chris Keenan
More than ninety schools in California are taking advantage of the California Solar Initiative and installing solar projects. The California Solar Initiative is an incentive program to get companies, schools, and homes to switch to solar power. The program gives cash back for installing solar power, California hopes to move the state towards running completely on clean energy, from using a coffee maker in the morning, to opening your garage door, California wants its residents to operate on solar power. The program almost works like a rebate program, where residents are reimbursed for installing solar power and then receiving incentives on their bill.
The California School Boards Association has partnered with SunPower to bring solar installations to more than ninety schools across the state, including elementary, secondary, and higher-level schools. This project to bring schools solar power is being launched as the Solar Schools program.
In the face of shrinking school budgets and higher costs to keep schools open, the California School Boards Association hopes to take advantage of the incentives and save money that can be better dispersed throughout the education system. It is estimated that California schools will be saving up to $1.5 billion over 30 years with the installation of solar power systems. School boards need to make every dollar count, and SunPower believes that their partnership with the schools is a step in the right direction both economically and environmentally.
“SunPower is dedicated to delivering reliable, high efficiency solar systems for school districts,” said SunPower managing director Bill Kelly. “With well-established financing mechanisms, we have proven that schools can add solar now and reduce their operating expenses this year, when cost reduction is highly prized.”
“The district was motivated by the significant cost savings that SunPower’s solar systems offer,” said San Ramon Valley Unified School District Superintendent Steven W. Enoch. “We found SunPower to be extremely innovative in helping us to maximize our immediate cost savings. Slated for completion by this fall, our solar installations will supply substantial savings to our district’s general fund, while preserving precious financial resources.”
This school district is scheduled to install solar power in five of its schools. The San Ramon Unified School District will save an estimated $2 million dollars in energy cost in its first year of solar installation.
This district has also implemented renewable energy education in its courses. Students can take classes that specifically focus on energy, how to create clean energy, and how to find alternative energy sources. SunPower is working with San Ramon’s engineering department to prepare students for future careers in clean technology fields. SunPower hopes to introduce similar curriculum into other schools participating in solar power installations.
The schools participating in the program hope to maximize savings, especially in immediate costs such as energy. The schools will be saving money in their general funds and be able to preserve financial resources which will allow school capital to stay within the school system. The solar power systems are scheduled to be completed by the fall of this year.Reprinted with permission from Cleantechnica