The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a low-interest energy conservation assistance account (ECAA) loan of $3 million for the Madera County school district. The total development and installation cost of the PV system is $5.105 million, financed with the combination of the CEC loan and the district's bond issued through a certificate of participation by investors in the project.
The loan will help the school district finance the installation of a total of 1.12 MW of solar on-site at its facilities located east of the City of Madera. Most of the PV panels will be ground-mounted in fenced-off open spaces, with a few panels installed on shade structures over parking lots at the district's main office and schools – Liberty High School, Ranchos Middle School, Sierra View Elementary School and Webster Elementary School.
Through a net metering arrangement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), electricity produced by the PV arrays in the summer when schools are out will be transmitted to the utility for use by its customers and credited toward the district's winter energy consumption.
Overall energy cost savings are estimated at $300,000 annually, plus $973,531 in rebates for five years provided by PG&E that will allow the district to pay for the solar panels without impacting its general fund, the CEC notes.