California Solar Schools To Save $1.5 Billion In Electricity

California’s massive push for solar and related support will see many of the state’s K-12 schools and higher education institutions installing solar panels – and saving approximately $1.5 billion in electricity costs over 30 years.
U.S. solar panel maker SunPower has partnered with the California School Boards Association to establish a Solar Schools initiative, to help schools in the state take advantage of generous government incentives to go solar.
Over the next 12 months, SunPower aims to install solar power systems at over 90 K-12 schools and higher education facilities across California, including five systems in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. The San Ramon Valley projects are expected to offset an average of 80 percent of the electricity costs at each school, representing estimated savings of more than  USD$2 million for the district in the first year.
SunPower is also working with the district’s engineering academy to cultivate interest in solar power careers and prepare students for job opportunities in the clean technology sector.
Still on the topic of solar schools and closer to home, the 2011/12 round of the Australian National Solar Schools Program (NSSP) is still open to applications. Under the NSSP, the Australian Government is providing generous grants of up to $50,000 for schools to install grid connected solar power systems. 
Originally envisioned to run until 2015, the Australian program has been so popular, only $50 million in funding remains and this will be the second last year the program will be available. This year’s application round may close as early as 30 September 2011.
National solar solutions provider Energy Matters is offering schools receiving NSSP funding a fully installed commercial solar power system up to 10kW in size, plus additional bonuses. Energy Matters says based on sun hours in Sydney, a 10kW systems will generate approximately 15,478 kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year and avoid up to 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Even at a current electricity rate of 25c per kilowatt hour, such a system could realise savings in the vicinity of $4,000 a year.