Summer Construction Brings Energy Efficiency Upgrades to Eastern San Diego County Schools

Grossmont Union High School District students returning to 12 of the district’s high schools saw their campuses transformed over the summer by solar panels, new facilities, and energy efficiency upgrades. The renovations are expected to enhance classrooms as well as entryways and improve accessibility and safety.

The largest part of the upgrade, funded through local ballot measures, installed solar panels at eight campuses, which will save about $61.2 million in utility costs over the course of the 25-year power purchase agreements. To supplement the systems, the district installed battery storage at nine school sites.

The summer construction also included upgrades to lighting at 10 campuses. Funds from the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39), which the California Energy Commission administers, were used for the upgrades.

The Proposition 39 K-12 Program helps schools improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation at schools. It is a voter-approved initiative that adjusted the corporate income tax code and allocated revenues to school districts for energy improvements to facilities.

“Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades makes school buildings more comfortable and creates a better learning environment,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the Energy Commission’s lead on energy efficiency. “In the long run, Proposition 39 grants used in a comprehensive way will save the district money that can be invested in student programs while helping the state reach its ambitious environmental and energy goals.”

At the Grossmont Union High campuses, light-emitting diode (LED) retrofits were completed to improve lighting efficiency and quality in classrooms, exterior walkways, and gymnasiums. Additionally, more than 4,000 ballasts – which regulate the current to lighting fixtures – and 8,000 new light bulbs were installed.

"The use of alternative energy resources helps contribute to a cleaner environment for our schools and community while also helping us to reduce utility costs," said Robert Shield, president of the Grossmont Union High’s governing board. "Our energy conservation projects are in place for all the right reasons. It's not just about saving money, it's also about being good stewards of our natural resources."

The district requested $3.5 million from the Proposition 39 K-12 Program, with $345,000 of it used for the summer’s lighting upgrades. The remaining funds will be used for additional lighting retrofits in gymnasiums, school theaters, and external areas; upgrades to heating ventilation and air conditioning systems and controls; and installation of smart thermostats. These energy upgrades are expected to save additional $8.6 million in electricity costs over the 20-year period.

The Proposition 39 projects are part of the district’s efforts to increase utility costs savings.

Photo courtesy of Grossmont Union High School District.

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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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