By Deanna Contreras
NAPA — As parents look for ways to save money throughout the new school year, schools are also looking to save on their energy costs. PG&E is helping hundreds of schools do just that, through energy efficiency rebates.
PG&E has provided 385 elementary and secondary school districts in Northern and Central California with more than $39 million in rebates since 2016. The districts have saved an estimated $45 million in energy costs annually.
One of those districts is the Napa Valley Unified School District, which includes Napa, American Canyon and Yountville. Since 2012, PG&E and the Napa County Energy Watch teamed up on several projects at schools throughout the district; including installing new:
- LED lighting
- Fan motors for walk-in coolers
- Water heaters and boilers
- Power saving software on thousands of computers
- Wireless thermostats on portable buildings
- Variable speed drives on pool pumps
“Being a longtime Napa resident, I know that anything the schools can do to lower costs in areas such as electricity and gas can go toward helping improve education for the students by putting that money that would’ve gone to energy bills elsewhere,” said William Bennett, project engineer for Napa County Energy Watch.
Since 2016, the upgrades have saved the district more than 95,000 kilowatt hours and nearly 800 therms of gas. That energy savings is the equivalent of taking 15 vehicles off the road for one year and 110 new tree seedlings grown over the next 10 years. That added up to rebates totaling $48,800.
“As a partner in the communities we serve, we value education. By helping schools become more energy efficient, they save on energy costs and can put that savings directly back into classrooms to support students and teachers,” said Andrea Schumer, PG&E senior energy efficiency specialist.
California schools spend $700 million on energy annually, according to the California Energy Commission. That’s nearly the same amount they spend on school supplies. PG&E’s rebates, discounts, and expert advice help make it easier for schools to save.
“Changing to more energy efficient lighting alone significantly reduced energy use. After retrofitting gyms with LED lighting at two of the high schools and two of the middle schools, I could see the costs go down,” said Brian Bacinett, energy and environmental compliance specialist for the Napa Valley Unified School District. “This tells me we’re headed in the right direction with the technology that’s available in getting our schools up to par on where we should be on energy efficiency.”
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.