Snowline School District launches $6.2M energy project

Original article posted on vvdailypress.com (http://www.vvdailypress.com/article/20151022/NEWS/151029886). By Charity Lindsey, posted Oct, 22 2015.

PHELAN — School officials gathered for a kickoff ceremony this week at Pinon Mesa Middle School to mark the launch of a $6.2 million energy efficiency project within Snowline Joint Unified School District.

Since SJUSD successfully implemented the first phase of its efficient lighting project at three of the district’s gymnasiums, the district has sought out to pursue phase two in efforts to further reduce energy and maintenance costs.

After failing to pass a local bond measure on multiple occasions, SJUSD turned to Schneider Electric to move forward on an energy savings performance contract that has since allowed the district to make progress with its facilities master plan.

The project does not include any tax impact on local citizens. Nearly 20 percent of the project will be paid for with grant funding from the California Proposition 39 Clean Energy Jobs Act.

“The Clean Energy Jobs Act provided us with the resources to do some energy upgrades,” SJUSD Superintendent Luke Ontiveros said.

Ontiveros said that Schneider Electric first performed an energy audit on all of the district’s sites.

“Most of our classrooms are portable classrooms and are kind of plain vanilla,” Ontiveros said. “Some are 35 years old,” he said, noting that this project allowed the district to update aging facilities.

According to Schneider Electric, the cost of Snowline’s project will be fully funded over time by leveraging Prop. 39 funds and the energy and operational savings that will result from the project’s installation.

As Ontiveros presented on Tuesday, the project will include all 15 sites of the district, four of which will become “zero energy campuses,” producing as much energy as they consume through clean, renewable resources over the course of one year after the project’s completion.

Although the district is still in the construction phase, some of the students led a tour at the kickoff to show off the classrooms that have already been completed.

A tour through the Pinon Mesa gymnasium was also given, as the building has been completely retrofitted through the energy project. Ontiveros said that before, the gym was difficult to even play volleyball in, with the ceiling so low that the tiles of it would fall out anytime someone hit a high ball.

“Schneider went in and re-did the whole thing,” Ontiveros said. “It’s not even like the same building anymore.”

Other project upgrades will include new interior and exterior LED lights, advanced lighting controls and an IT power management system that will allow the district to turn off networked devices when they’re not in use.

The project is set to be completed by August 2016. Schneider Electric projects that it will reduce SJUSD’s energy costs by 28 percent and reduce overall energy and maintenance costs by nearly $8.5 million over the next 20 years.

Charity Lindsey may be contacted at clindsey@vvdailypress.com or 760-951-6231. Follow her on twitter @DP_Charity.