High Marks for Solar Schools in California

Schools across the state are using solar power to cut energy consumption and save money. Thirty-one California schools were awarded more than $4.2 million from the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Solar Schools Program.

“Improving the energy efficiency of our schools will reduce peak electric demand and save the districts valuable money, which could be used in other areas,” said Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, Vice Chair of the California Energy Commission. By harnessing the power of the sun and converting it into clean, renewable energy, California’s schools will help the state reach its goal of producing 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2010. The Solar Schools Program is a combined effort between the CEC’s Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) and the California Attorney General’s Alternative Energy Retrofit Account. To date, more than 675 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) power have been generated by California school districts that purchased and installed PV systems made possible by the Solar Schools Program rebate. Public and charter schools that met program eligibility requirements earned a one-time special rebate incentive of $6.40 per watt, which was twice the amount of the standard ERP rebate level offered at that time. Under the Solar Schools Program, qualified schools were required to meet all eligibility requirements for the standard rebate under the ERP and fulfill the following Solar Schools Program criteria: — The public or charter school provides, or will provide, [renewable energy] instruction for any grade between kindergarten through 12th grade. — The school has already installed high efficiency fluorescent lighting in at least 80 percent of classrooms or has implemented other energy efficient measures with equivalent or greater energy savings as determined by the Energy Commission. — The school agrees to establish a curriculum tie-in plan to educate students on the benefits of solar energy and energy conservation. The amount of funding requested far exceeded the amount available, with more than 60 school districts applying for the special rebate incentive. At this time, the CEC does not expect any future funding for the Solar Schools Program. Any school, public or private receiving electric service from these four utility companies — Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison or Bear Valley Electric — are encouraged to apply for and reserve funding under the current ERP rebate program.
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