District Uses Energy Efficiency Funds to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system at a school can offset energy demand and reduce a school’s operating costs, leaving more funds for other programs. Chico Unified School District leveraged grant and loan funds from the Clean Energy Jobs Act to complete energy-saving projects at 20 schools.

This district, with more than 13,000 students at 21 campuses, has made their first priority quality teachers, materials and facilities.

The focus on facilities propelled the district to apply for more than $2 million in grants to the California Energy Commission’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) K-12 Program. The district plan funds upgraded lighting, HVAC, and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.

To leverage the grant funding, Chico Unified also applied for a zero-percent interest loan through the Energy Commission for $3 million. The funds from the Proposition 39 Energy Conservation Assistance Act-Education Subaccount (ECAA-Ed) helped finance the installation of PV systems on five additional campuses.

The district has been implementing energy efficiency measures for several years. Before receiving the loan, the district had installed seven solar power generation arrays, according to Lalanya Rothenberger, the district’s construction and energy manager.

“Chico Unified School District has made great progress in our quest to reduce energy consumption by implementing energy management protocols and by building efficient and earth-friendly buildings,” Rothenberger said. “We are thankful for the ability to complete these projects and improve our school sites while reducing our carbon footprint.”

ECAA-Ed and the K-12 Program are Energy Commission programs funded through Proposition 39. Voters passed Proposition 39 in 2012 to adjust the corporate income tax code. For five years, projected revenue will go to California’s general fund and to projects in schools that improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation.

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