This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 26, 2011

DOE Issues Report on Financing Solar Photovoltaic Systems for Schools

DOE released on October 20 a report detailing best practices for financing and installing photovoltaic systems on school buildings. The report is titled "Solar Schools Assessment and Implementation Project: Financing Options for Solar Installations on K-12 Schools." Produced under the SunShot initiative, the report supports the ongoing development of Solar Master Plans for three California public school districts—Oakland, Berkeley, and West Contra Costa Unified School Districts.

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to reduce the cost of solar energy by 75%, making it cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. The new study supports DOE's SunShot Initiative goal of addressing critical barriers, such as the availability of financing, to accelerate the integration of solar energy technologies across the United States. Installing solar energy systems on public schools can help school districts save money on their utility bills, reduce carbon emissions, support job creation, and provide students with opportunities to learn about clean energy.

The newly released report examines the two primary types of ownership models used to obtain solar installations: the direct-ownership option, where the school district finances the project through debt financing, and the third-party finance model, which typically involves a third party that owns, operates, and maintains the system and is paid by the school system for the solar power generated. The third-party finance model also includes Energy Saving Performance Contracts, in which the savings from energy efficiency improvements in the schools can help to pay for the solar installation. This analysis can help school administrators across the country select the best option for deploying solar technologies in their school districts. See the DOE Progress Alert, the complete reportPDF, and the SunShot Initiative website.