Dollars and Cents: One Riverside School District Saves Money by Updating Lighting Systems

The Riverside Unified School District, located east of Los Angeles beside the Santa Ana River, was one of the first to apply for energy-efficient funding through the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39).

At three of the district’s schools, old lighting systems were replaced with more environmentally-friendly energy saving lighting. This summer, their energy-efficiency building retrofits will continue with upgraded heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. 

“The projected energy- cost savings from the lighting upgrades alone, which have already been completed, is nearly $25,000 annually,” said Orin Williams, Riverside Unified School District director of maintenance and operations. “We are so pleased to use energy-efficient technology to lessen the impact on the environment while saving the district much needed funds. Right now, we are finishing the second year submission, which will cover seven schools.”

Voter approved Proposition 39 changed the way corporations calculate their tax loads, resulting in additional revenue, and directs these funds towards energy-efficiency retrofit projects in California K-12 school and Community College buildings. By creating an Energy Expenditure Plan, school districts can apply online and work with the California Energy Commission to fund energy efficient projects that will reduce operating costs and make a positive impact for students, faculty members and the environment.

“We believe that every district should do its part to conserve our state’s valuable resources,” said Williams. “We will lead by example and hopefully other districts will also take advantage of Proposition 39 funds.” 

Riverside Unified School District received $1.99 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The district used nearly $600,000 for planning purposes and $1.05 million to complete their lighting and HVAC projects. Each year for five years the district will receive allocations, which are set by the California Department of Education. The district has the option to apply each year or for multi-year funding.

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 Energy Expenditure Plans. Schools can access these online resources on our website and get advice by calling the toll-free hotline at (855) 380-8722.

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Energy Efficiency

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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