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School district able to go green thanks to state funding
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The Turlock Unified School District is well on its way to becoming more energy efficient thanks in part to funding from Proposition 39.

The Board of Trustees voted May 16 to submit the District’s proposed Energy Expenditure Plan to the California Energy Commission for funding, supporting a three-year strategy that will provide nearly $300,000 in energy-related funds.


In November 2012, voters passed the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, or Prop 39, which directed the state to close a loophole in out-of-state business taxes, resulting in approximately $2.5 billion in new revenues for fiscal years 2013-2018. These revenues are allocated to local education agencies to improve energy efficiency and create clean energy jobs. Annually, approximately $550 million is allocated to K-12 school districts throughout the state, and funds are allocated based on the District’s Average Daily Attendance, with a weighting for Free and Reduced Price Meals ADA.


In order for TUSD to benefit from Prop 39 funding, an energy study was required on each campus in order to see where there were the greatest potential savings.


“While we examined a number of possibilities, the greatest savings came from changing our lighting out to new LED lights and fixtures,” said Facilities Planner and Safety Coordinator Martell Taylor. “Therefore, the projects in our plan are to install energy efficient lighting where it was most beneficial.”


The District’s proposed plan, mapped out for Board members at the meeting, is projected to cost a total of $4,563,148. Just over $3 million of that will come from the state, while the remaining funds, around $1.4 million will be provided by the District.


In using Prop 39 funds to install new lighting and fixtures in the District’s campuses, the plan is estimated to produce $98,818 in savings annually, which Taylor said will go towards repaying the District’s portion of the original cost.


“After the completion of our three-year plan and the transition to LED lighting, we will be spending fewer District dollars on lighting our classrooms and campuses than we are today,” said Taylor.


The upgrades to the District’s lighting are anticipated to bring savings in more ways than one. Many of the lights that will be replaced are already approaching the end of their life cycles, and replacing them now will save the District from an approaching cost. Also, since LED lights have a much longer “working life” than outdated bulbs, Taylor expects that the District’s maintenance technicians will be spending much less time changing bulbs and ballasts in years to come. Lastly, the expenditure plan calls for LED bulbs which produce only a small fraction of the heat of other bulbs, which should help keep the District’s air conditioning costs down as well.


In total, the expenditure plan submitted for funding includes 12 school sites, covering nearly every campus within TUSD except for Brown Elementary School, Turlock Junior High School and eCademy Charter at Crane. Nearly 13,000 lighting and fixtures will be replaced, and 387 occupancy sensors will also be installed.