Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Evening Edition

Solar Power Shines On California Schools

The San Diego Unified School District headquarters is shown on March 19, 2020.
Zoë Meyers
The San Diego Unified School District headquarters is shown on March 19, 2020.

California leads the nation in the installation of solar power systems at local schools.

A new report card finds a third of the nation’s solar-powered schools are in the Golden State. The state also has 45% of the solar capacity at the nation’s schools.

The Generation 180 report found more than 2 million students attend solar-powered schools in California. Some school districts have made solar power a priority, Generation 180 program director Tish Tablan said.


“At a school district level they can coordinate multiple buildings, so large school districts like San Diego can pool together multiple buildings and do a very large solar project to reap really big savings,” she said.

RELATED: San Diego And Much Of California Hit With Rolling Blackouts

Schools that install solar are not only helping reduce energy costs, but they are also helping California reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will help hit the state’s renewable energy targets, Tablan said. More than 2,400 schools in the state are generating electricity on-site and there is potential for more.

“Nationwide, only 5.5% of the schools have any kind of solar installed,” she said. “So there is a huge opportunity for schools to go solar and reap all of these benefits. From cost-savings to enhancing stem learning, to vocational job training.”

California is one of 28 states that permit power-purchase agreements for solar projects. That allows schools to install solar without paying for the installation. A third party owns the system and the school buys the cheaper electricity generated by the panels.


Tablan said the number of schools going solar in California grew by more than 2.5 times in the past five years.