The Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) in Clovis, California, will soon complete construction of a 5.86-megawatt (MW) solar installation that will provide electricity for nearly 38,000 students. The system was financed by a voter-approved bond initiative that will ultimately save the district $2.7 million a year in energy expenses.

The CUSD solar installation is expected to deliver 8.4 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, and will serve as an educational opportunity that will demonstrate to students the viability and promise of clean energy production.

“The ambitious Clovis Project exemplifies the school district’s foresight to reduce energy costs,” Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc., who supplied the solar modules, said in a press release. “With education budgets tight across the U.S., this significant savings can be redeployed, directly benefiting students for generations to come.”

Qu’s last point is worth emphasizing. California schools have been hit hard by the recession, which led to lower tax revenues and significant budget cuts. The students suffer the most in these situations, as such cutbacks lead to shorter school years, fewer textbooks and limited resources for each pupil. Switching to solar energy will free up revenue so that it can be reallocated for other parts of the education budget, such as hiring more teachers and making classes smaller.

If you’re the administrator of a school district in California, you may want to consider following the same path as CUSD. Hiring West Coast Solar, the leading Bay Area solar installers, to design and construct solar panel arrays for your institution can save millions of dollars and put your schools on a pathway toward sustainability.