The Santa Monica-Malibu School District announced Friday their plans to install solar power systems at nine elementary schools, a move that is expected to save the school district $4 million in electricity costs during the next 25 years.

Virginia Hyatt, a purchasing director for the school district, credited the community's dedicated solar advocates.

In 2008, the city of Santa Monica started the effort with a $20,000 study. The school district sought out investors interested in a power purchase agreement. In such an agreement, a third-party investor is responsible for the costs of operating the solar power systems, while also winning the tax benefits. The school district then purchases the power from the third party at a discount.

The project stalled after six months, however, Hyatt said. “We were reluctant to give up, but it wasn't clear where to turn next,” she said.

Solar Santa Monica, an organization that assists residents in energy efficiency, helped the district find investors and contractors.

With reporting from City News Service

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