Beginning in 2013, California schools suffering from years of deferred maintenance got a much needed windfall. Proposition 39 made about $550 million available annually to improve schools’ energy efficiency and expand clean energy programs. But half way into the five year program, some school officials question how effective Prop 39 has been.
Anthony Duarte is not one of them. “Among the 1,000-plus school districts in California, we were one of the first large districts to receive an approved Prop 39 Plan,” says Duarte, Board Member of Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. “We have since completed the projects in that Plan and take pride in knowing that these efficiency improvements have made a noticeable impact on the learning environment for our students. In addition, the project stimulated the local job market through a project labor agreement with IBEW that had a local hire component.”
Unfortunately, not all schools are having that winning experience. And critics claim Prop 39 is not living up to its ambitious goals. Some schools are not applying because the process is too burdensome. Others that do secure funding are under-utilizing Prop 39 opportunities.
But at Schneider Electric, we’ve helped a number of schools like Hacienda La Puente Unified School District (USD) effectively leverage Prop 39 funding opportunities to develop long-term facility management plans that will positively impact their schools — and the surrounding community — for years to come.
In fact, Schneider Electric has helped develop highly successful Prop 39 energy efficiency projects for many California schools. In the process we’ve learned a number of lessons that can benefit all school districts.
One of the biggest? The importance of using Prop 39 funding to jump start an energy and infrastructure master plan. Prop 39 funds can be further maximized through an energy performance savings contract, which offers guaranteed returns.
Performance contracts, combined with our financing expertise, allow school districts to tackle energy improvement and infrastructure projects that they otherwise would never have been able to accomplish due to lack of funding and staff’s time. We understand that your Prop 39 allocation doesn’t begin to cover all your deferred maintenance needs, but it’s certainly a start and we can work with you to secure additional funding through grants, rebates and incentives that maximize every dollar.
As Hacienda La Puente USD attests, a successful Prop 39 program often starts with having an energy infrastructure plan — along with a trusted partner and a smart financing vehicle to make those plans a reality. Because the school district had a roadmap and a partner in place, it was one of the first large districts to be approved for Prop 39 funding.
“The Schneider team worked tirelessly to make sure our plan was ready as quickly as possible,” said Mark Hansberger, Director of Facilities, Hacidenda La Puente USD. “Schneider has been a true partner in helping us meet our capital improvement, energy efficiency, and financial goals.”
That plan has translated into some impressive improvements now totaling more than $12 million, starting from a seed of just $5 million of Prop 39 funding.
Those improvements include:
- Electrical service equipment upgrades.
- Installation of a new building automation system.
- New interior and exterior lighting at the district’s four comprehensive high schools, eight middle schools, District Office, and two adult education campuses.
- All new HVAC equipment at the Dibble Adult Education campus.
- PC power management software that will shut down the district’s networked devices when they are not in use.
And that’s just the start of the improvements the school district intends to make with the energy improvement plan that its Prop 39 funding helped set into motion.
So the next time you hear that Prop 39 is failing to live up to its potential, ask yourself or your school officials: What’s our plan? Then, turn to Schneider Electric for help in developing that plan — and maximizing your Prop 39 funding.
In my next blog, I will share the second biggest lesson I have learned that can benefit all school districts. Stay tuned for information on how you can leverage your Prop 39 allotment to accomplish more for your district. For now, read more about Hacienda La Puente Unified School District’s energy conservation efforts.
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