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Vista Unified School District Granted $4.7 Million for Prop 39 Energy Efficiency Upgrade Projects

  |   Energy Efficiency, Highlights, K-12 Sustainability

On July 21, Vista Unified School District became the third of San Diego County’s 42 school districts to have its California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) Energy Expenditure Plan approved by the California Energy Commission. Vista Unified School District will receive $4.77 million that will be used for a variety of energy efficiency retrofits including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) replacements, programmable thermostats, PC power management, exterior lighting controls, and LED exterior lighting. When fully implemented these energy efficiency measures will deliver more than 2.3 million kWh in energy savings.

Vista Unified School District’s plan, developed by Schneider Electric, is the third largest dollar value five-year plan to be approved by the Energy Commission. The project also has the greatest impact, covering 27 school sites – more than any other approved Energy Expenditure Plan statewide.

“We are grateful that Vista Unified School District will be able to utilize these resources to improve the quality of our facilities while also improving energy efficiency,” said Vista Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Devin Vodicka. “We are particularly pleased with how many students – and schools – will benefit from these upgrades. The approved plan will help us to move in the direction of achieving our vision to be the model of educational excellence and innovation.”

Like many school districts in California, Vista Unified School District has addressed several small-scale energy projects over the years. Now, through Proposition 39 funding, Vista Unified can make significant energy efficiency upgrades by replacing old and inefficient heating and air-conditioning equipment as well as better controlling how that equipment is operated. The plans will also improve exterior lighting and save the district money by allowing them to better manage information technology equipment.

For the 2013/14 school year, the California Department of Education has allocated a total of $29 million in Prop. 39 funds to San Diego’s 42 school districts and charter schools. $11 million has already been made available to school districts for planning expenditures, which include the hiring of Energy Managers and completion of facility audits. $18 million will be distributed upon approval of Energy Expenditure Plans, of which Escondido Union School District is the first.

Statewide, the Energy Commission has received a total of 117 Prop. 39 Energy Expenditure Plans, of which Vista Unified School District becomes the 55th approved as of July 29.

In an effort to help San Diego schools gain maximum benefit from Prop. 39 funds, CleanTECH San Diego and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) organized the San Diego K-12 Schools Sustainability Strategy Collaborative in June 2013 to expedite the process and foster the sharing of energy efficiency and clean energy best practices.

“Not only is Vista Unified School District the first of San Diego’s large school districts with more than 2,000 average daily attendance to get a 5-year Energy Expenditure Plan approved,” said CleanTECH San Diego Greening San Diego Manager Marty Turock, “but by sharing their methodology and lessons learned during the process with our K-12 Schools Sustainability Strategy Collaborative, other school districts also gained valuable insights, which enables them to expedite completion and approval of their own Energy Expenditure Plans.”

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