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La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools Captures $2.5 Million in Proposition 39 Funding

  |   Energy Efficiency, K-12 Sustainability

La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools (LMSVS) has approved a District-wide energy efficiency program with Cleantech San Diego member company OpTerra Energy Services and is poised to take full advantage of California Proposition 39 funds before they dry up at the end of next year.


Starting in fiscal year 2013-14, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) spelled certain relief for K-12 school districts wanting to access state funding for energy upgrades to school facilities. Access to Proposition 39 funding comes with strict eligibility and accountability requirements, which can be especially daunting when combined with the program’s tight deadlines for project approvals and completion. While the California Energy Commission doesn’t cut off applications until August 1, 2017, much of the background work that qualifies schools for the funding can take a year to complete—meaning that time is running out for schools to take advantage of Proposition 39 funding.


With the program approvals in place as of their September 19 Board Meeting, La Mesa-Spring Valley won’t miss out on this important Proposition 39 opportunity. The District is addressing critical maintenance projects through a funding stream that will come from Proposition 39 funds, avoided energy costs, and an estimated $800,000 in energy efficiency rebates from SDG&E. This investment in sustainability demonstrates the District’s commitment to long-term fiscal savings by implementing energy efficiency solutions before renewables. La Mesa-Spring Valley’s project is set to save the District more than $24 million in the first 20 years, with nearly $750,000 in savings in the first year alone.


OpTerra was selected as an energy partner with the District in 2015 through a competitive process that involved identifying critical facility needs and energy savings opportunities as well as developing a facility upgrade plan that maximizes efficiencies and qualifies for Proposition 39 dollars over the five-year allocation. As a result of the partnership, the District will leverage $2.5 million in Proposition 39 funding. The local OpTerra San Diego team has developed some of the largest Proposition 39 projects in California to date, including Desert Sands Unified School District which is expected to achieve a projected $19.5 million in savings.


Upgrades Ahead
The District plans to kick-off construction this fall with a comprehensive sustainability program that will transform classrooms and facilities for its more than 12,500 students. The program will include:


  • New LED (interior and exterior) retrofits that improve the learning environment in the classroom, boost campus safety and security, and enhance curb appeal.
  • Replacement and upgrades of the inefficient HVAC and controls at all 23 District sites to improve air quality and reduce maintenance and repair costs.
  • Replacement of critical components of electrical infrastructure, such as high efficiency transformers which help guard against unscheduled and unbudgeted equipment failures that can arise when a system is overloaded, and increase the reliability of access to electricity in case of power outages.


Efficiency Before Solar Helps Maximize Future Improvements
Leveraging the savings of the efficiency upgrades to pay for the program, LMSVS will be better positioned to size future renewable generation opportunities like solar and battery storage. By first reducing energy usage, the District will be able to correctly size future solar options.


“We are committed to doing everything we can to maintain the highest standards for classroom excellence while using available funding first,” said Board President Bob Duff, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools. “But we know there are many additional upgrades our students and teachers deserve as we create 21st century classrooms for La Mesa-Spring Valley. By saving money through efficiency first, I am confident that we will be able to leverage future opportunities to help fund the other critical improvements.”


Bringing Savings Back into the Classroom
“The board recognized an opportunity to achieve significant energy savings by working with OpTerra on this project, but what we’re really excited about is bringing dollars back into the classroom,” said Brian Marshall, Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools.


“More regional school districts are adopting energy efficiency programs, but La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools show true leadership by addressing many of the facility needs in a way that is fiscally responsible, does not require any capital from the District and is solely funded by energy savings,” said John Mahoney, CEO of OpTerra Energy Services.


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