School District Finds Energy Savings Through Proposition 39 Funding
The Pleasant Ridge School District, located in the Sierra Foothills, was one of the first districts to take advantage of new funding to help its schools become more energy efficient. The district overhauled lighting systems and modified heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems at three of its schools. The funding for the improvements came from the voter approved Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39).
“It is important for school districts to take advantage of the opportunities the state gives us to enhance old technology and equipment,” said Superintendent Rusty Clark. “Lighting has improved leaps and bounds since the school was first built and being able to bring it up to the new standard gives us the ability to utilize funds in another way.”
Proposition 39 altered how corporations calculate their tax loads and then redirects the proceeds to energy efficiency upgrades at schools and other structures. Now, one year after the first applications were accepted by the California Energy Commission, schools have already begun seeing the benefits. The initiative passed in 2012 and the Energy Commission began drafting guidelines in 2013, but Clark said the district was already in motion. The district conducted an energy audit and found the most savings – about $30,000 a year – would come from replacing or upgrading HVAC systems and exterior lights. It submitted an energy expenditure plan in early 2014 and within one month it was reviewed and approved by Energy Commission staff.
“The process was much easier than we anticipated with a new program,” Clark said. “We were able to complete the project and started to see savings on our electric bill right away. More efficient LED lights may not be the kind of investment students see when they walk the halls, but it has already saved the district approximately $8,000 since the July 2014 completion.”
The district applied for a multiple year expenditure plan and will receive about $500,000 over the next five years. Clark said there are more energy improvements they can make to save even more. “Every dollar not being spent on energy can be used elsewhere within the district.”
Over the next five years Proposition 39 will transfer an estimated $2.5 billion in new revenues to create clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy and costs for schools.
To help schools through the application process, the Energy Commission developed easy-to-use energy savings calculator tools for simple energy projects and has a team of engineers and energy specialists to review and approve expenditure plans. Schools can access these online resources on our website and get advice by calling the toll-free hotline at (855) 380-8722.