The Golden Valley (Calif.) Unified School District, based in Madera, is using a low-interest $3 million loan from the state’s energy commission to help pay for installation of solar panels to cover all of the school system’s electricity needs.

Most panels will be ground-mounted in fenced-off open spaces; a few will be installed on shade structures over parking lots at district campuses.

The California Energy Commission approved the Energy Conservation Assistance Account loan, which will enable the school system to install a photovoltaic system with a capacity of 1.12 megawatts. The commission says that the combination of cost savings plus rebates from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will enable the 2,000-student district to eliminate its electricity bill from its operating budget.