Solar Schools Program

January 27, 2003


The California Energy Commission and the California Power Authority introduced the Solar Schools Program in October 2002. The program will distribute $1.75 million in grants for public schools to install rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems. The money is from settlements reached between Attorney General Bill Lockyer and two energy companies with long-term contracts with the state. Calpine Energy Services agreed to pay $6 million and Constellation Power Source Inc. agreed to pay $2.5 million. Of that total, $2.75 million will be used for retrofitting schools, hospitals and other public buildings, Lockyer's office said. More money could become available if Lockyer renegotiates additional long-term contracts with other energy companies. The Solar Schools Program offers a rebate of up to 90 percent of the purchase and installation cost of PV systems. School districts may also arrange for a loan from the California Energy Commission's Energy Efficiency Financing Program to cover the remaining 10 percent of project cost. The Solar Schools Program's funds are available for a maximum of 20 kilowatts of PV within each school district and system cost must not exceed $8.50 per watt. These 20 kW may be installed as one system or as multiple systems on different schools within a district. Eligible Schools include all public schools in California with electric service provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE), or San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E). Schools must have already installed high efficiency fluorescent lighting (T8 lamps and electronic ballasts) in at least 80 percent of the classrooms, or have implemented other energy efficiency measures of equivalent or greater energy savings. A curriculum tie-in plan to educate students about solar energy must be incorporated at the school site where the PV system is installed and the curriculum must meet the guidelines established by the California Department of Education. PV systems meeting the requirements of the California Energy Commission's Buydown Program are eligible. Systems must meet the California Division of State Architect guidelines for solar system installations, including structural support. To reserve a rebate, schools or school districts should obtain a copy of the Emerging Renewable Resources Account Guidebook, which contains the forms you will need, with the exception of the curriculum tie-in certification. Submit a Solar Schools Program Preliminary Reservation Request Form (CEC-1890-C-1c) with the necessary supporting documentation.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Financial Incentive
State: California
Incentive Type: Grant Program
Web Site:
Administrator: California Energy Commission
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Solar Photovoltaics
Incentive Amount: 90% of the purchase and installation cost
Maximum Incentive: System cost including installation must not exceed $8.50 per watt
Equipment Requirements: 20 kW maximum of photovoltaics in each school district


Name: Dale Trenschel
Organization: California Energy Commission
Address: 1516 Ninth Street, MS-45
Sacramento CA 95814-5512
Phone: (916) 653-2834

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.