PERRIS, Calif. — Like many school districts across the nation, Perris Union High School District (PUHSD) has found significant value by investing in green and sustainable technologies. The district early on took advantage of California’s Proposition 39 energy efficiency project funding, completing $2 million worth of upgrades at zero cost to the district, and is anticipating the construction of a new solar array.
Qualifying for $1.98 million in Prop 39 funding allowed the school to embark on lighting and energy efficiency upgrades at all six schools as well as one charter school and the district office. These upgrades in turn qualified the district for more than $37,000 in utility rebates, bringing the district’s total investment to zero.
The project included installing mechanical unit replacements, retrofitting more than 1,800 interior and exterior lighting fixtures with energy efficient LED technology, replacing transformers and installing a pool pump variable frequency drive (VFD) and new pool cover at Perris High School. Together, these projects will result in utility savings of approximately $157,000 annually. The upgrades will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saving 780,460 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 390 therms of natural gas annually. The completed upgrades have been in place since November 2016 and are now saving enough energy to power the equivalent of 52 local homes.
District leaders partnered with OpTerra Energy Services (OpTerra), headquartered in Oakland, Calif., to help plan and implement the project as well as assist the district in qualifying for funding. The national energy company works with education, local government, commercial, industrial and institutional organizations to implement efficiency and sustainable energy solutions, and has provided more than $2 billion in energy savings for its customers over the past 40 years.
“We applaud Perris Union High School District for being proactive about [its] long-term energy vision,” said OpTerra CEO John Mahoney in a statement “[The district is] setting a strong leadership example by recognizing the cost of energy and being smart about prioritizing energy-reduction activities ahead of energy-production ones.”
“We are proud to have completed this project so quickly, with a focus on linking energy performance to STEM learning,” added Grant Bennett, Perris Union High School District Superintendent, in a statement.
Bennett also credited Opterra’s efforts to expedite the energy efficiency program while still prioritizing educational tie-ins for students and the community.
Based on this successful partnership, PUHSD also approved a 4-megawatt solar power purchase agreement (PPA) with OpTerra in August 2016, which upon completion will save the district an estimated $9.7 million over the next 20 years, according to a statement by the company. The project’s first outreach meeting was held in October 2016 to engage the community around the developing plan.
PUHSD and OpTerra, have already begun design work on the new solar array, and the installation is set to begin in May. Construction on the array is slated for completion later this summer.