While the rush is on for K-12 school districts to complete California Proposition 39 energy efficiency projects before next year's closing deadline, Perris Union High School District (PUHSD) is celebrating having already finished $2 million in energy upgrades at zero cost by having qualified for $1.98 million in Proposition 39 funds and over $37,000 in utility rebates. OpTerra Energy Services helped plan, assist the District in order to qualify for funding, and implement the District's upgrades which are now saving the equivalent of enough energy to power 52 local homes. Based on this successful partnership, PUHSD approved a 4MW solar power purchase agreement (PPA) with OpTerra at the School District's August 17th Board of Trustees meeting – which will save the District $9.7 million over the next 20 years.
Over the past year, comprehensive energy efficiency and lighting upgrades were installed at all six schools, charter school, and the District office, which will result in utility savings of approximately $157,000 annually. The project included mechanical unit replacements, retrofitting over 1,800 interior and exterior lighting fixtures with energy efficient LED technology, transformer replacements and installing a pool pump variable frequency drive (VFD) and new pool cover at Perris High School. Combined, these upgrades will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saving 780,460 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 390 therms of natural gas annually.
"We applaud Perris Union High School District for being proactive about their long-term energy vision," said OpTerra CEO John Mahoney. "They're setting a strong leadership example by recognizing the cost of energy and being smart about prioritizing energy reduction activities ahead of energy production ones."
The Perris Union High School District was able to maximize Proposition 39 funding to fully cover the costs of their energy upgrade project and with efficiency measures in place first, the District won't be wasting time or financial resources on producing renewable energy for inefficient equipment.
"We are proud to have completed this project so quickly, with a focus on linking energy performance to STEM learning," said Grant Bennett, Perris Union High School District Superintendent. "OpTerra's highly refined processes expedited our energy efficiency program while still prioritizing the educational tie-ins we can make for students and the community. As we start our solar PPA, we expect that their expertise will continue to save us time and money, guiding our decisions and enabling us to focus on our students."
Perris UHSD is looking forward to starting the next phase of their accomplished energy work with the kick-off of solar construction early this winter. In order to start off with community engagement from the onset of the project, the District is committed to ensuring open communication on all aspects of technical work. The first Community Outreach Informational Meeting was held on Oct. 5 at Heritage High School to engage the community around the developing plan. The meeting was held with successful input from the school community and staff, including residents and stakeholders around the District.