Shrinking budgets and cutbacks are a major challenge for public schools still reeling from reduced state and federal aid. As a result, many institutions are looking for ways to curtail expenditures without eating into the already small appropriations devoted to things like textbooks, class resources and teacher pay. The Jefferson Elementary School District (JESD), located just south of San Francisco, may have found a solution by switching to Bay Area solar energy to provide its electricity.

The JESD recently completed a transition from conventional grid power to photovoltaic panels in an effort to save $17 million over the next 25 years. The $12 million project, which involved converting 14 schools, one administrative building and one central kitchen facility to solar power, was funded in part by a ballot measure that allowed the district to borrow money for energy efficiency improvements. It was also paid for by the California Solar Initiative, a $2 billion bill that appropriated subsidies for residential, commercial and institutional solar projects.

District Superintendent Bernie Vidales tells the San Francisco Examiner that going solar will offset of 1,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year in addition to helping the schools lower their energy bills. He predicts they will cut their electricity purchases by over 85 percent.

Vidales also states that the JESD will be integrating solar technology into the curriculum to educate students on the advantages of renewable energy.

“They’re our future engineers,” Vidales tells the source.

If you’re the administrator of an educational institution such as a district or particular school, the JESD solar program provides an excellent model for how you can integrate photovoltaic technology into your energy infrastructure, helping the environment and improving the economic health of your organization. For more information, contact West Coast Solar today.