6/12/17 - Daily Transcript Staff Report - Grossmont energy conservation projects to save school district $1.2M
An array of energy conservation and utility management projects undertaken by the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) are projected to save the district nearly $1.2 million in annual utility costs, according to district officials.
Funded through California's Prop 39, the Clean Energy Jobs Act and multiple power-purchase agreements, the projects include several large photovoltaic installations, lighting retrofits, the consolidation of utility meters and the installation of storage batteries to offset peak demand.
"The use of alternative energy resources helps contribute to a cleaner environment for our schools and community while also helping us to reduce utility costs," said Robert Shield, president of the GUHSD governing board. "Our energy conservation projects are in place for all the right reasons. It's not just about saving money, it's also about being good stewards of our natural resources."
At Valhalla High School, a solar carport installed with no upfront cost to the district registered an annual savings of $175,000. Continuing installations of battery storage systems at nine schools are projected to save the district $163,000.
The largest savings resulted from consolidating electrical service to fewer meters, which reduced the service fees associated with each individual meter. The changes have saved the district $404,909 annually, with additional savings expected for future rate schedule changes.
"Utility costs take up a sizeable portion of our overall operations budget and have historically been a relatively fixed and inevitable cost," said GUHSD superintendent Tim Glover. "By tapping into a variety of innovative conservation tools and best practices, and leveraging them with utility incentives, we are seeing dramatic utility cost savings."
Solar installations at eight additional campuses could save the district another $42.1 million over the next 25 years, according to the district. The solar arrays are projected to reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to the consumption of more than 1 million gallons of gasoline.
GUHSD plans to explore several other resource-conservation strategies, including the installation of wireless thermostats.
"Clean, green energy is just but one tool in our collective energy toolbox that we are exploring to help power our campuses while reducing demand and lowering utility costs," Glover said. "I think we owe it to our future community leaders to be the best example possible of good environmental stewardship, while also working toward reducing costs for taxpayers who invest in and believe in our public school system."