Less than a thousand dollars. That’s how much the solar pool heater will cost Viewpoint School in Calabasas, Calif. The solar installation project was completed in April and passed its final inspection in May, making it the first commercial solar pool heating system in Southern California to qualify for a new rebate under the California Solar Initiative Thermal Program.

Legislation for the commercial pool rebates went into effect in January 2013, but suffered from delays. By March, solar companies were lining up projects.

At Viewpoint School, Catersolar of Woodland Hills, Calif., installed 72 solar panels manufactured by Lakewood, N.J.-based Aquatherm Industries to heat the school’s pool. The total project cost was $60,001. Because the project will save the school 8,432 therms of natural gas per year, the school will receive a $59,024 rebate.

The program is tiered, meaning the first eligible projects will get the most reimbursement.

“There are over 40,000 commercial pools in the state of California at places like schools, hotels, gyms and homeowners associations – the majority of which are heated,” said Dave Sizelove, president of Aquatherm. “Facilities often have no choice but to continuously heat these pools, which uses an incredible amount of energy.”

Sustainability is incorporated at all levels at Viewpoint. While the school would have added a solar pool heater at some point, Mike Adams, director of physical plant at Viewpoint, said the rebate made the installation possible sooner. The new solar heater is the primary source of heat for the 3,500 square foot pool.

“It’s tangible, in that you can see how many BTUs of energy the system is generating,” Adams said. “That’s energy that would have come from natural gas before. It’s also an incredible piece of infrastructure to be able to add to the school. It makes a statement. Wherever an institution can make its mark, as far as sustainability goes, I’m all for it.”